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Open access pilot plants for sustainable industrial scale nanocomposites manufacturing based on buckypapers, doped veils and prepregs

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PLATFORM (Open access pilot plants for sustainable industrial scale nanocomposites manufacturing based on buckypapers, doped veils and prepregs)

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2018-01-31

The three main aims H2020 PLATFORM project pursues are to develop open access environmentally friendly pilot lines for the industrial production of three cost-effective, sustainable nano-enabled products: buckypapers, CNT treated prepreg and CNT doped nonwoven veils; to create an European eco-system for testing, validation and further integration of nanocomposites and to contribute to overcome the barriers that materials are currently facing to be introduced in the market as part of advanced materials and advanced manufacturing processes in sectors such as Aeronautics and Automotive. The pilot lines are own by Tecnalia (Spain), Adamant Composites (Greece) and Technology Partners (Poland). The three product as well as advance associated services can be found at www.nanocomposites-hub.com. The three pilot lines have been designed from a safe-by-design concept. One of the goals of the project has been the definition of safe by design and safe production specifications. During the project relevant activities were carried out for Communication/collaboration with relevant TCs aiming at creating a strategy for the interaction with CEN TC 352 “Nanotechnologies” to use the standardization system as a fast and focused dissemination channel to reach the market and to assess the TC information and promote the future elaboration of CEN (European Committee for Standardisation) workshop agreement (CWA) based on the results of the project. The project contributed to the on-going and future standardization developments to facilitate and promote the inclusion of its outcomes in a future standardization deliverable that can be easily found and used by the European or international industrial sectors. In this period, UNE has defined the basis to submit a formal CWA proposal to CEN
The activity carried out by the consortium has fully complied with the project tasks and with a good collaboration between the partners. As a result the project reached its main technical objective: To develop open access pilot lines for the industrial production of nano-enabled products (buckypapers, CNT treated prepreg and CNT doped non-woven veils) for applications in composite parts for sectors such as Aeronautic and Automotive. During the first period of the project the final selection of the components that will be built, namely the part of the fuselage and stringer at the Aeronautical industrial and the Bonnet of the PANDA vehicle for the Automotive industrial use case (WP8) were defined. In order to fulfil the two use cases multifunctional requirements, the three nano-enabled products have been developed in three pilot lines that produce in a semi-industrial scale. The products as well as advance associated services are offered in the open access platform (e-Platform) created in the first period and has been feeded and updated during the second period. The e-Platform maintenance strategy and business model and feasibility study have been deploy during the second period within WP3.The commercial activity of the e-Plaform is part of a collaboration agreement signed by the three pilot lines owners, Tecnalia, Adamant and Technology partners in the form of a joint venture. Focusing on the technical part the three WP devoted to up-scale the three nano-enabled products (WP4,5 and 6) continued the full scale pilot line design and ended up with the construction of the pilot lines as a result of the integration of different modules into full line. The pilot lines successfully developed nano-enabled products (with related PDS and TDS) for integration in industrial use cases studies in WP7, where the best solution to perform a final demonstrator with all technologies and all integrated materials in WP8 was selected based on a complete test campaign covering mechanical tests as well as electrical measurements performed and cross checked. Fair to mention the work performed as an attempt to use mentioned nano-enabled products as electrodes for Structural health monitoring purposes. The technologies are promising but there still research to be done to understand SHM mechanisms and the role of nano-enabled products in SHM. For the successful realization of the project, environmental, health and safety issues are of high importance. Main achievements in WP9 have been the definition of safe by design and safe production specifications. A safe by design tool has been developed and applied to the risks derived from the use and manipulation of Carbon nanotube-based Nano-enabled products in three scenarios: pilot lines, application scenarios and case studies (composite parts manufacturing for the Aeronautic and Automotive sectors). A complete campaign of emissions and exposure measurement has been performed with interesting results. Special to mention is the completion of this WP with an intensive work done to develop a European EHS Guideline transformed into a CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA), encapsulating the know-how gained by project PLATFORM in EHS.
There is currently no facility in Europe for the manufacture of continuous BPs (only in the US), nor for the large-scale manufacturing of thermoplastic CNT-doped nonwoven veils nor for large-scale production of CNT-treated prepregs
With respect to Buckypapers, the starting point for this process was a static filtration process that was capable of manufacturing 0,1m2 of material/day under optimum processing conditions. The new pilot plant is currently capable of producing 2m2/shift, with operating conditions still to be fully optimised. It is expected that this capacity will be significanlty increased in the next two quarters through process optimisation as well as further modifications to the pilot line.
With respect to CNT treated prepreg (FXply™ prepreg technology) in the project a flexible and modular pilot line with high production rates (1000sqm/day) that enables fast screenings and trials on a variety of prepregs, and a multitude of material combinations to address a plethora of markets has been developed. The line works in a semi-automatic mode and treats prepregs rolls at an average speed of 2 linear meters, applicable to any prepreg composite of the market.
With respect to CNT-doped veils the starting point for this process was a machine equipped with one screw extruder dedicated for non-doped thermoplastic nonwovens in which was possible to blow only one type of material with the efficiency of 50 sgm/week and 500x800 mm size. The process was not-continuous. The new pilot plant is currently capable of producing 800x1800mm CNT-doped veils with the capacity of 150 sqm/week, with the operating conditions still to be fully optimised. The process is currently semi-continuous. It is expected that this capacity will be increased in the next two quarters through process optimisation as well as further modifications to the pilot line.
The three pilot line capabilities are currently sufficient for existing production requirements and further work will be carried out to fully optimise the process. The main focus beyond PLATFORM will be put on development of fully continuous process and the full control of the process to assure both product reproducibility and traceability. The pilot line has the capacity to be further modified with the required equipment.
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