Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

  • European Commission
  • Projects & Results Service
  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NANOLEAP (“Nanocomposite for building constructions and civil infraestructures: European network pilot production line to promote industrial application cases.”)

NANOLEAP Report Summary

Project ID: 646397
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NANOLEAP (“Nanocomposite for building constructions and civil infraestructures: European network pilot production line to promote industrial application cases.”)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2015-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

NANOLEAP project brings together a European Network of pilot production facilities focused on scaling up nanocomposite synthesis and processing methods. This Network of pilot plants properly equipped and skilled will be available to companies active across the European Construction value chain and for new players who are considering entering the market. Thus, through this focus on a near-industrial scale, NANOLEAP project will effectively support manufacturing SMEs in the implementation of research results for the development of innovative products and processes.

NANOLEAP project aims at the development of a coordinated network of specialized pilot lines for the production of nanocomposite based products for different civil infrastructure and building applications.
The goal of this infrastructure is to support the research activities of European SMEs in the Construction sector in nanocomposite products enabling the progress of the product to next steps of technology deployment such as installation of industrial lines and enter in the commercialization stage.

In order to enable these pilot plants offering a suitable service aligned with the needs of the industry (particularly SMEs) some different and complementary strategies are proposed in NANOLEAP:
1. A suitable pre-treatment or functionalisation of nanoparticles or nano-aggregates depending on the intended use , to ensure optimal compantibility with the matrix and avoid dispersion problems
2. Work on technical solutions for the efficient embedding of nanoparticles into the different matrices employing in situ techniques which leads to larger productions
3. Improvement of nanocomposite production processes in terms of production volume and cost reduction through the proper integration of control systems at the nano-scale (i.e.measurement of degree of dispersion, interfacial properties and mechanical behaviour at the nano level) to avoid problems in operation with nano-components.
4. Promoting safe-by-design approaches in nanoparticles measurement, detection, and characterization in gas and liquids, complex media and at workplace and use this knowledge for occupational, consumer and environmental exposure measurements, confinement barriers efficiency testing, personal protective and equipement effiency testing

For the creation of the network, ten pilot plants dealing with the most promising applications of polymeric nanocomposites in the construction and engineering sector have been selected. This project will support these pilot lines for the scaling up and production of these nanocomposite based products in order to facilitate their further adoption by the entire construction chain:
• Coated nanoparticles with improved compatibility with the matrix providing a wide range of functionalities and leading to high quality products and important saves of energy when processed.
• Antiweathering and anticorrosion nanocomposite coatings for the protection of structures exposed to aggressive environments such as wind turbines, offshore, marine infrastructure.
• Multifunctional polymeric nanocomposites providing environmental resistance (antimicrobial, UV protection) and smart applications to traditional construction materials such as concrete and coatings including self-cleaning, hydrophobicity, early warning crack and water leak alarm.
• Prefab lightweight elements such as aerogels mechanically reinforced with nanoparticles for high-thermal insulation applications in building.
The governing structure for the Open Pilot lines network (legal, financial, technical management) will be set during the project to guarantee the success of the operation of the Network. Moreover, an “open call for tenders” targeted to SMEs will be launched during the project to validate and demonstrate the concept of “Open Access” and to step forward further collaboration after the end of EU financial support. The idea of this open call is to deploy a set of use cases where SMEs external to the Consortium and interested in developing or testing any of their technologies will be given the opportunity to use any of the pilot plants of the NANOLEAP network. Thus, the governing structure and business plan of the NANOLEAP concept will be validated.

In order to enable the development of the NANOLEAP network of Open pilots, the following scientific and technical objectives will be pursued:

OBJECTIVE 1- Development of an Ecosystem for the Pilot network set up and governance:

- Design of the governing structure for the Open Pilot lines network (legal, financial, technical management)
- Identification and involvement of the target customers in the development of the pilot lines
- Definition and design of the services portfolio to be offered by the network members
- Design a Quality control procedure for commissioning and operation of the plants
- Development of a Safety and Risk assessment strategy for the Nanocomposites production in collaboration with the NanoSafety cluster
- Overall economic and environmental analysis of the Open pilot lines network
- Definition of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to specify and value the goal(s) of each pilot separately and for the pilot Network as a whole:
• Individual vs. collective goal achievement KPI: business strategy, economic goals, etc
• Process and outcomes KPI. Technical performance indicators, overall production

OBJECTIVE 2- Integration of novel technology and tailored processing in existing pilot production lines to enable the use of nanofillers in Industrial manufacturing process in a sustainable and cost-effective way.

- Functionalization and pre-treatment of nanoparticles for improved interfacial interaction/compatibility with the selected matrix.
- Optimization of process control of key parameters: particle size and distribution, dispersion, exfoliation
- Integration automatic control and in real time monitoring of process parameters to accelerate the production and give more control to each single step.
- Novel synthesis techniques such as in-situ synthesis, functionalization in one step, nano-imprinting for better handling of nanoparticles and control of parameters

OBJECTIVE 3 Integration of quality control and process verification to increase the level of robustness and repeatability of the industrial processes aimed at nanocomposite production.

- Advanced measurement and process parameters control techniques in closed-loop (temperature, pressure, flow rate, composition, pH, viscosity, etc.).
- Quality control and process verification systems coupled with innovative automated tools to increase the process level control and ensure the required production volume/speed together with the quality of the final products.
- Hardware/software solutions to gather data from sensors and provide inputs to the actuators based on the control logic that will be implemented to optimize the production processes.
- Development of up to date property measurements and data collection, as well as advanced characterisation techniques for nanometrology.
- Development of quality test procedures/equipments for the evaluation of the performance of the nanocomposite product
- To ensure the final nanocomposite product is according to relevant standardization (ISO, ASTM, national) depending on the technology to facilitate the acceptance and utilisation by the market
- To ensure the pilot plants are operating in accordance to the quality and environmental provisions of the EU directives and standards (UNI EN ISO 9001 2000 and UNI EN ISO 14001).

OBJECTIVE 4- To develop a Business plan for enabling Open pilot lines access.

- Exploitation Plans for the network of pilot lines as well as the individual pilot line facilities after the project will include business plans for the cooperation with SMEs.
- To validate the NANOLEAP open pilot business concept by real case-studies open to external SMEs (“Open call for tenders”)
OBJECTIVE 5- Ensure the success of the Nanoleap Network during and after the project through the Constitution of a Cluster Expert Group

A cluster for the dissemination and exploitation activities will be set around the concept of nanofabrication enabling technologies and nanocomposite applications for the Construction Sector. The cluster will be focus in the next objectives:

- Increasing the knowledge cluster for nanocomposites, manufacturing, processing and application, and making this knowledge available to many medium-sized and start-up companies
- Ensuring that consortium partners (SMEs) have a high level of up to date expertise of the newest science and technology achievements in polymer nanocomposites
- Supporting consortium partners to bring products and services faster to a strongly competitive market
- Enabling technology transfer by intellectual property deals among the consortium partners
- Stimulating start-ups and spin offs from the participating research organisations
- Contributing to the creation of new employment opportunities in Europe
- Creating and supporting standardisation measures for a faster penetration of the markets
- To develop a common platform for disseminating fellow projects results.
- To organize common Dissemination and Exploitation events.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The work performed until now is related to the objectives defined in the proposal. Until now the following deliverables completed are the following ones:

Deliverable 9.4 (M06). Project logo, leaflets and website

Deliverable 1.1 (M06). Quality assurance and risk management plan

Deliverable 3.1 (M06). Adaptation of ICP reaction Chamber for graphene sheets with possibility to adapt the monitoring tools

Deliverable 9.9 (M06). Project Impact Assessment v1.0. An Initial Project Impact Assessment

Deliverable 8.1 (M09). Report on use of commercially available software for LCA and on methodology and templates developed to collect sensitive data (input and output flows) for the models and the inventory

Deliverable 2.1 (M12). Governance and administrative structure of ENNCPP

Deliverable 3.2 (M12). Sample of graphene sheets for comparison with comercial product

Deliverable 4.2 (M12). Evaluation of pilot plant and identification of optimizations steps

Deliverable 5.2 (M12). Imprinted nanocomposite film with superhydrophobic & self-cleaning properties

Deliverable 6.1 (M12). Synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials-based aerogels at lab scale

Deliverable 9.2 (M12). Preliminary business model

Consequently, the following main results can be listed (which will be deeply described in part B of the technical report):

- Coordination of administrative activities, supervision of legal, contractual, legal, financial an administrative management and maintenance of communication with the Commission and each partner.
- Dissemination of activities in different meetings (EURONanoforum 2015) was performed.
- A project logo (which is included as an image), a model of leaflet and a specific website, where the main internal information of the NANOLEAP consortium that must be disseminated is continously uploaded, have been designed and created.
- A quality assurance and risk management plan has been validated.
- A chamber for the manufacture of graphene sheets by the ICP technique has been adapted for monitoring purposes. Sample of graphene sheets were compared to those commercially supplied.
- An initial project impact assessment has been defined. In addition, the structure of the different committees that configures NANOLEAP was confirmed whereas the rules for making dissemination activities were also defined.
- A report on the capability of the commercially available software for Life Cycle Analysis was discussed.
- The governance and the administrative structure of the European Network of Nanocomposites Pilot Plants (ENNCPP) were established. Different committees and boards were defined in order to effectively promote this network and its future interaction with third parties. In addition, the mission and the principal services to be offered to potential costumers were defined.
- Evaluation of pilot lines and identification of optimization steps were completed.
- Properties of imprinted nanocomposite film with superhydrophobic & self-cleaning were listed.
- The synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials-based aerogels at lab scale was discussed.
- A preliminary business model of each of the pilot lines were finally performed

In addition, other tasks not delivered at M12 have been developed:

- It has been demonstrated that the spray drying is a suitable technology for the production of nanoparticles aggregates.
- Pilot plants have been organized, consolidated and integrated through process efficiencies, specific outputs of nanomaterials and coatings for industrial applications.
- The lacquering unit has been finally installed. The continuous nanocoating of glass fiber surfaces has been successfully scaled up. The freeze-drying has been also mounted and successfully operated for the manufacture of aerogels. A novel silica aerogel product reinforced with graphene nanoparticles has been developed. A contribution of two partners for the analysis and improvement of the fluid dynamics in the silica aerogel pilot linen has been promoted. In addition, a study on the scale up and integration of silica aerogels pilot lines has been performed.
- Activities of dissemination and networking have been carried out.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

"Impacts set out in the work program:

• A European eco-system for high TRL testing and validation of nano-composites, affordable and accessible for SMEs, through technical collaboration between RTOs and composite producers and through identification of all critical value chain players for the market introduction of the final product. NANOLEAP integrates a complementary network of pilot plans specialized in the development, testing and production of the latest innovations and most promising applications of nanocomposites for the construction and engineering sector. The NANOLEAP network enables the seamless collaboration between industry and research sector by setting an open framework with the adequate economic, legal and technical characteristics to allow the adoption of innovations and new developments by the SMEs. Pilot plans involved in the project are in a high stage of development. The proposed research for the pilot plans will allow, at the end of the project, the testing and validation of close to market (i.e TRL 7-8) innovative products.

• Enabling of investment decisions for market introduction of novel, cost-effective, safe and sustainable nano-enabled products that demonstrate superior performance in terms of multifunctionality and sustainability, e.g. in the packaging, textiles, transport, energy, electronics and construction sectors. Technological and innovative SMEs face big challenges linked to technical and economic constraints and for the development of novel products and processes. NANOLEAP project aims to bridge this gap by offering an innovative business model based on a win to win strategy, for the RTOs owners of the pilot plants interested in their exploitation and the SMEs aiming at testing and developing new products to improve their competitiveness without big investments and risks.

• Demonstrated scaling-up and increased degree of automation of nanocomposites production lines/processes, leading to higher production volumes, improved reliability and repeatability of produced nanocomposites and lower production cost; availability of new or significantly improved "fit for purpose" tools for integration in those lines. Improved control strategies coupled with a better dispersion quality control and lower production cost will allow the industrialization of the nanocomposite production,

• Contribution to standardisation in the nano metrology field for fast product and process design. Development of up to date property measurements and data collection, as well as advanced characterisation techniques for nanometrology: this will be performed involving National Metrology Institutes (NMIs) and the European Association of National Metrology Institutes. This work will feed the European Metrology Research Programme supporting the progress in nanocomposite metrology

• Promoting safe-by-design approaches in collaboration with the EU nano-safety cluster and contributing towards the framework of EU nanosafety and regulatory strategies. NANOLEAP will produce guidelines for production, use and handling of nanopowders and nanocomposites as well as risk minimization procedures. These guidelines will be produced on the basis of European Directives, documents, committees for prevention and cautions. Dedicated training session in Safety will be done on the pilot plants of the Network. Additionally, guidelines and risk minimization procedures will be published and shared with a broad audience; i.e. NanoSafetyCluster, EU-FP7, H2020 and National projects as well as international harmonization activities. Close cooperation with the Nanosafety Cluster will be established along the project. As some consortium partners (e.g CEA) are members of the cluster, this will facilitate a smoother collaboration and participation in the technical working groups.

Policy framework

NANOLEAP project targets one of the cross six Key Enabling Technologies, Nanotechnology.Pilot production activities aim at transforming prototype products to a usable form for customers, so they can integrate those products into their production lines. NANOLEAP pilot network speeds up the innovation process that integrates these new products into innovative end-products, allowing rapid gaining of market shares and reduction of production costs.
NANOLEAP will also support the goals set by the Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union by fostering the cooperation between the academia research and the industry (in special SMEs). Additionally, thanks to the mechanisms put in place by NANOLEAP Network, access to pilot plans will be guaranteed, lowering the economic and technical barriers that hinder the innovation process (i.e bringing “ideas to market”) and accelerating research, development and market deployment of innovations.

Market perspectives

The European market for nanocomposites is predicted to grow from 23,000 tonnes (2006) to 120,000 tonnes in 2016. Recently, nanotechnology started to be introduced in the construction industry enabling the development of materials with improved or totally new properties. Nanocomposites for instance have offered a great opportunity in sustainable construction/green building application due to their efficiency and environmental protection. Nevertheless, the successful penetration of these innovative materials in the market faces some challenges.

Markets look at two main criteria when evaluating new materials: performance and cost. In terms of performance, nanocomposites have already shown its big potential to provide traditional materials with exceptional properties (e.g in terms of performance, new functionalities, resistance, etc) the major uptake of these materials would depend on the ability to make the products at a cost competitive to the traditional material and manufacturing process.

Furthermore, the four applications identified by NANOLEAP are aligned with the trends for construction industry and enjoy promising market perspectives:

1. Functionalization and pre-treatment of nanoparticles. The modification of nanoparticles surface has been adopted by most of the industries to obtain tailor-made products with the desired functionality for a specific application (conductive, hydrophobic, anticorrosion). With the growing understanding of methods to functionalize nanoparticles it is likely that functionalized nanoparticles will become an important tool for nearly every sector of the economy, and construction will not be an exception.
2. High performance nano composite coatings. Nanotechnology based coating products have shown remarkable growth in recent years with BCC Research reporting in January 2010 that the nanotechnology based coatings market was projected to grow to $17.9B in 2015 . Nowadays, annual direct cost of metallic corrosion in Europe is estimated € 200 billion. Anti-weathering coatings aimed at the reduction of maintenance cost in civil infrastructure are one of the most exploitable markets of nanocomposite coatings. Furthermore, the biocide properties provided by some kind of nanoparticles such as Ag and graphene are rapidly leading to commercial paintings for housing and building.
3. Multifunctional polymeric systems and smart functionalities. Light weight composite façade systems based on polymeric membranes have a significantly lower weight than their counterparts such as concrete or glass. The number of smart materials and smart material systems has grown exponentially over the last ten years being hydrophobic and self-cleaning the most demanded functionalities among the building and construction community.
4. Mechanical reinforcement and thermal stability of lightweight materials used in the building industry for thermal/acoustic insulation such as aerogels. Due to the trend to more straight building regulations in terms of energy-efficiency the market of aerogels as lightweight and high-performance insulator was a value of $647.3 million in 2013 . Cost of production is the main concern to allow the mass adoption of aerogel by the market.

Improving innovation capacity and the integration of new knowledge (incl. impact on SMEs)

In Europe, there are more than 20 million European SMEs representing 66.5% of all European jobs and employing in 2012 86.8 million people. The SME sector as a whole delivered 57.6% of the gross value added generated by the private, non-financial economy in Europe during 2012. Despite the strategic importance of these companies, SMEs face important challenges to stay competitive in the global markets, and often find difficulties even to compete with larger firms at national level. Barriers related to the lack of funds and inadequate access to finance, limited technical resources or lack of skills / knowledge (innovation management capacity) result in a loss of competitiveness and market opportunities for these SMEs.

NANOLEAP pilot plants network will offer skilled equipment and personnel for test, validation and scale-up of nanocomposite available to SMEs and to new players who are considering entering this market. NANOLEAP project will effectively support manufacturing SMEs in the implementation of research results for the development of innovative products and processes."

Related information

Record Number: 186632 / Last updated on: 2016-07-14