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Materials for severe operating conditions, including added-value functionalities

Specific challenge: The need to develop materials which can perform well in severe operating environments is increasing with advances in technology and requirements for higher efficiency in all areas such as manufacturing, energy, transport and communications, deep-sea technologies etc. Another important driver for advanced functionalities, e.g. self-diagnosis and self-healing, comes from the incorporation of nanoscale and molecular materials components. This poses a major challenge for materials science, and requires a fundamental understanding of how the processing, microstructure, nanostructure and properties of such material interact in order to enhance their response under more severe conditions.

The general aim is to develop new products or components with a step change in efficiency or performance compared to existing ones, for operation in e.g. high radiation environments, highly corrosive environments, under high friction conditions, low temperature environments, deep sea or space environments, or other extreme climate conditions.

Scope: Projects should develop bulk materials that can function within an aggressive environment without property degradation, synthesise new structures with useful properties, and force chemical reactions that normally result in damage to proceed along selected pathways that are either benign or initiate the self-repair of damage.

Projects should include appropriate numerical tools (e.g. density functional theory, molecular dynamics) to capture the multi-scale evolution of damage (e.g. friction/corrosion or corrosion/irradiation synergies should be considered); and predictive modelling tools for materials operating in extreme environments. Standardisation and/or the production of (certified) reference materials may also be addressed as an integrated part of the proposal. Proof of concept in terms of product and/or process must be delivered within the project, excluding commercially usable prototypes, but convincingly demonstrating scalability towards industrial needs. The cost effectiveness and commercial potential of the innovative technologies compared to state-of-the-art solutions currently available on the market should be quantified during the project, with the involvement of end users. The environmental sustainability and end-of-life considerations of each proposed solution should also be assessed with special emphasis on efficient materials usage.

For this topic, proposals should include an outline of the initial exploitation and business plans, which will be developed further in the proposed project.

Activities expected to focus on Technology Readiness Level 5.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 6 and 8 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

                   Increase in competitiveness and sustainability of European industry through high value products and manufacturing processes in the application sector;

                   Employment and training through engagement in cutting-edge technologies.

Type of action: Research & Innovation Actions