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Aligned Natural Fibres and Textiles for Use in Structural Composite Applications

Periodic Report Summary 1 - NATEX (Aligned natural fibres and textiles for use in structural composite applications)

NATEX is focused on the development of aligned textiles from natural fibres suitable for use as high strength reinforcing fabrics to produce structural composite parts using bio and oil based thermoplastic and thermoset resins. This includes the use of orientated woven natural fibres in bio-derived thermoplastics and thermosets, to produce high-tech products with high added value from entirely renewable resources.

The main innovations in NATEX project are:
- Modification of the fibre surface to obtain the desired interface properties when combined with the polymer matrix.
- New spinning process to reduce the yarns' twisting during the textile manufacturing process, increasing the fibre volume fraction and the wetting of the fibres. This is going to increase the mechanical properties of the yarns.
- New weaving techniques are being developed to improve impregnation and to obtain innovative 3D textiles.
- New commingling and film stacking is being developed for thermoplastic composites, for improving the permeability of the composite and to obtain well mingled yarns.

Besides, a large range of resin processing methods will be adapted to suit them to the characteristics of the modified fibres: vacuum bagging, vacuum consolidation, compression moulding, continuous compression moulding, infusion and resin transfer moulding. Basic research on joining technologies as hot welding over natural fibre composites will be also performed.

As a result, aligned natural fibres with improved properties will be combined with thermoplastics and thermosets, increasing the mechanical properties of biocomposites and introducing them in structural applications in different sectors: transport, energy, agricultural machinery and shipbuilding.

Considering the importance of the final application sectors, the versatility of use of the fabrics in conventional processes, and the nowadays limitations on the use of natural fibres in composites, an important replacement of the currently used traditional textiles and non-textiles by natural textiles is expected in the composites sector since these natural reinforcements are kept at competitive costs. The numerous advantages of the manufactured composites with natural fibres is significantly contributing to the growth that is expected in textile production and will accelerate the predicted growth ratio for the next 10 years period near 5 %.

The NATEX website, http://www.NATEX.eu/ was established at the beginning of the project. Deliverable 9.5 'Project website' gives an overview of the main functionalities and structure of the website. The main structural difference is based on the intended audience: the public at large (industry stakeholders, academia, EU and national officials, etc) and/or the beneficiaries involved in the project, the consortium.