After three years and a half of research, AITIIP Technological Center headquarters in Zaragoza hosted the final conference of the Ecoxy Project, which has involved twelve European partners. Along the final conference, Ecoxy partners have shared the results they have achieved during these years research. They have also had the opportunity to reach and interact with stakeholders enrolled in the event. Most of them, coming from associated sectors that may be benefit from the developement Ecoxy provides to industry. The project, with CIDETEC as coordinator these years, had a budget of 4.85 million euros, contributed entirely by the European Commission through the Biobased Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) consortium.
The main goal of the project was to develop thermoset and sustainable materials made of a plant origin resin and reinforcements of either linen fiber or biobased PLA. The developed materials offer three competitive advantages: they are repairable, reprocessable and recyclable ('3R'). The ‘3R’ technology, devised by the project coordinator CIDETEC, has been validated by different institutions that have cooperated throughout the entire value chain. Specific Polymers and CNRS have been in charge of selecting the vegetable origin source to obtain the best epoxy resins as well as of scaling up the synthesis process. Weverij Flipts & Dobbels has worked on improving the linen fibre fabric; Centexbel has developed PLA fabrics (thermoplastic material that allows customizing the functionalities of the reinforcements used in each piece); and Avantium has worked on the use of humins as an additive for PLA fibres.
Technological Centres Fraunhofer ICT from Germany and Aimplas from Spain have respectively produced composite material prototypes for the automotive and construction sectors, at pilot scale. The validations of those prototypes have been carried out by Centro Ricerche Fiat, for the automotive sector, and by Bergamo Technology, for the construction sector. Finally, ECRT has optimized the process of grinding the composites and their screening to ensure a good selectivity of the materials, and Aitiip has demonstrated the viability of the '3R' in the composite (matrix mixed with reinforcement) at a pilot scale.
Thanks to the innovative composition of these materials, the resulting pieces will be recovered at the end of their life cycle, and the production waste could also be recycled. With this functionality, the use cycle of the resources and materials would be almost unlimited. On the other hand, cured composite materials (by means of a chemical reaction that transforms the liquid into a solid) also allow their reprocessing, it means, they can be morphologically modified to create a new part. One of the functionalities of the material is its repairability, since microcracks or damages are repaired by applying heat and pressure.
The ECOXY Project has manufactured backrests for rear car seats and window profiles using the project materials, which mechanical properties have been validated by companies in the automotive and construction sectors. Common epoxy resin systems applied in aeronautics and wind power are not reprocessable. The milestone of the ECOXY project is to make the resin react with hardeners, obtaining reprocessable thermoset matrices. Thus, it has been possible to develop these advanced functionalities using cutting-edge chemical processes, thanks to the previous work of CIDETEC.