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Lignin Based Carbon Fibres for Composites

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - LIBRE (Lignin Based Carbon Fibres for Composites)

Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2021-04-30

LIBRE has made positive contribution to European society by enabling increased usage of composites in a range of industrial sectors, as well as facilitating sustainable manufacture of CF. The environmental and societal benefits derived simply from the use of composite materials will be greatly increased by establishing sustainable sources of production

The overall project objectives are:
PO1. Investigate PF production from renewable bio-based lignin
PO2. Develop new efficient processes to convert PF to CF
PO3. Optimise PF processing properties
PO4. Tailor the CF-matrix interface
PO5. Optimise CF handling .
PO6. Produce prepreg using selected epoxy resin
PO7. Validate optimised CF
PO8. Carry out Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)
PO9. Decrease the CO2 footprint
The following deliverables have been delivered on time:

D1.1 Report on the selection of bio-derived lignins and their chemical properties

D1.2 Provision of lignin to project partners

D2.1 Report on selection of grades of lignin and their chemical functionalisation
D2.2 Report on blending of chemically modified bio-polymers and thermoplastic polymers, and doping of susceptors, for initial PF production
D2.3 Optimised PF polymer blend for melt spinning and carbonisation via conventional thermal pr cessing .
D2.4 Optimised PF polymer blend for melt spinning and carbonisation via MW processing .


D3.1 Interim report on PF spinning process for selected blends
D3.2 Report on fiber properties and their suitability into carbon fiber production
D3.2 Advanced report on PF spin processing for developed blends
D3.3 Advanced report on PF spin processing for developed polymers
D3.4 Final report on spinning tests for selected materials for initial PF production

D5.1 Interim report on plasma surface treatments
D5.2 Final report on DBD plasma surface treatment processes
D5.3 Final report on MW plasma surface treatment processes for CF
D5.4 Final report on AP-Jet plasma surface treatment
D5.5 Final report on switchable plasma-polymer coatings by AP-Jet plasma
D5.6 Final report on atmospheric plasma surface treatment

D6.1 Report on optimal scaled-up process for polymer blending
D6.1 Report on optimal scaled-up process for polymer blending
D6.2 Report on optimised scaled-up PF spinning process
D6.3 Report on optimised extended-run batch processing for stabilization and carbonisation of PF to CF, and requirements for future scale-up
D6.4 Report on optimised extended-run MW/AP-Jet/DBD CF surface treatment processes, and requirements for future scale-up


D7.1: Demonstration to industry (event and report)

D8.1 Interim report .
D8.2 Life Cycle Analysis results and interpretations from LIBRE process - carbon fibre
D8.3 Recommendations for optimal routes to sustainable exploitation of LIBRE materials and processes from completed Life Cycle Analysis .
D8.4 Recommendations for future work required and appropriate commercialisation of LIBRE technology from completed economic analysis of LIBRE outputs.
D8.5 Life Cycle Analysis results and interpretations from LIBRE process – composite products .

D9.1 Standards (Updated Annually)
D9.2 Dissemination plan
D9.3 Exploitation plan (updated annually)
D9.4 Archiving Plan
D9.5 Project Outcomes published in Peer-reviewed Journals

D10.1 Periodic activity reports agreed by management (ongoing)
D10.2 Business planning and Technical exploitation group ratified
D10.3 Mid-term report

Main results achieved so far:
• Successful spinning of lignin-based precursor fibres.
• Effective crosslinking technology to improve processability and carbon phase.
• Successful thermal conversion of precursor fibres and first ever scaling of lignin based CF.
• Novel surface treatments for carbon fibres.
• The LCA carried out within the LIBRE project has shown a clear energy and environmental benefits compared to the current carbon fibre production based on PAN.
• 3 filed Patents, 17 Journal paper published, 16 conference contributions, 10 invited presentations, 8 press releases, 490+ twitter, 7,500 + web visits, Cutting Edge Special Issue in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules
At the end of this reporting period, the state of the art has been surpassed by LIBRE in the following aspects:

1. Blending lignin with bio-based Polymeric Materials to produce viable CF precursor materials
2. Polymer Blends with Enhanced MW/RF Susceptibility
3. Polymer Crosslinking to Facilitate Stabilisation and Cyclisation
4. Precursor Fiber Production at pilot scale 5. MW Plasma Thermal Processsing 6. Surface Functionalisation

Expected results
• Sustainable polymer blends (achieved)
• Spinning and carbonization behaviour established (achieved)
• Novel fiber architectures defined (achived)
• Energy efficient processes enabled (achived)
• Maintain EU companies and Institutes at forefront of CF processing technologies.

Potential impacts of LIBRE

LIBRE utilised lignin rich side streams from European biorefineries as carbon source materials. This new fully bio-based feed stock will allow European producers to rely less on imported precursors and imported CF, thereby securing a sustainable, indigenous, European CF manufacturing base not reliant on petrochemical based precursor materials.Between 40 and 50 million tons of lignin are produced worldwide per year; while some is being used for low- and medium-value applications (e.g. binding and dispersing agents in materials such as cement and bio-based leather substitutes most is currently treated as a non-commercialized waste product or a low value fuel to produce energy - representing a market value of roughly $730 million).
LIBRE went beyond the state of the art by producing CF from cheaper bio based precursor materials utilising newly developed energy efficient microwave processing techniques.

The LIBRE consortium has validated 3 new bio based products in WP7: Components for the automotive industry, aircraft secondary structures and wind turbine blades

LIBRE established a new value chain for lignin by utilizing low commercial value waste material (WP1) to produce CF which will inturn be processed into CFRP for high value added applications in the automotive, energy and construction sectors (WP7)

LIBRE has increased competiveness through 1) the liberation from petroleum based products such as PAN precursor, 2) novel routes for the reuse of waste lignocellulose streams and a more cost effective production base allowing new materials and materials processing techniques to be developed cheaply and efficiently. LIBRE will enable EU industries to lead the way by directly targeting end users in the transportation, energy and construction industries. LIBRE will aid in the transition towards a competitive European bio economy with all the associated societal implications in terms of jobs creation in rural areas, and sustainable development.
LIBRE project Infographic