Biocomposites, Europe, Fiber, Research, Technology

EU project advancing hemp, wood bio-materials for key industries

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An EU funded research & innovation project says it has made progress developing fully bio-based composites from hemp and wood feedstock for the automotive, aeronautics and audio sectors.

The SSUCHY (Sustainable Structural and Multifunctional Biocomposites from Hybrid Natural Fibres and Bio-based Polymers) project aims to demonstrate the potential for transforming traditional materials and products by replacing fossil-based components with bio-based raw materials.

The initiative is working to improve load-bearing resistance, weight reduction, enhanced durability, vibration damping, vibro-acoustic control and fire retardancy in wood- and hemp fiber-based products.

Reinforced woven hemp

SSUCHY said progress has been made in cultivation and primary and secondary processing steps to obtain high-quality reinforced woven hemp fabrics for structural applications.

Two prototypes, a “green” loudspeaker and a bio-based aircraft cockpit panel have been developed so far, and the initiative expects to produce prototypes of a bio-based electrical scooter and hemp-based trunk floor for the automotive sector by mid-2021.

TRL standards

SSUCHY is working to a range of Technology Readiness Levels, standards for consistency and technical maturity in different types of applications. The standards were developed by the U.S. Department of Defense, and were later adopted by the European Space Agency; the standards also have been embraced by the EU’s Horizon 2020 technology innovation program, and factors into some ISO international production standards.

SSUCHY covers the overall value chain, starting from biomass supply to processing and transformation processes involving plant fiber reinforcement, and the design and manufacturing of composite sandwich materials via prototyping.

Training planned

The project is expected to complete the production and testing of its full range of demonstration products in the next year, and will organize courses to train Master and PhD students based on recent findings in natural fiber.

Administrators say a web of interconnected EU regional economies could help in the development of short supply chains and local feedstocks to meet demand for locally produced goods.

17 partners

The SSUCHY Consortium counts 17 partners from 7 European Countries, including academia, SMEs and industrial groups.

French partners include the Université de Franche-Comté, the project coordinator; the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique; École Nationale Supérieure Arts & Industries Textiles; IAR, a French Bioeconomy Cluster; École Nationale d’Ingénieurs de Tarbes; and the Université de Bourgogne; Trèves.

Other partners are: the European Aerospace Design Consultants, EADCO, Germany; University of Bristol, UK; Wilson Benesch, UK; University of Derby, UK; Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium; Linificio e Canapificio Nazionale Srl, Italy; Università cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy; NOURYON, Netherlands; NPSP BV, Netherlands; and University of Stockholm, Sweden.

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