In the EU millions of tons of cardboard are incinerated or go to landfill. A small proportion is recycled and this is due to a lack of "end-use" products. This source of excellent cellulose fibres and even larger quantities of agricultural residues are available as raw materials. Most EU countries do not have forest industries. The production of special papers from these waste fibres for lamination into synthetic "hard woods" would provide considerable environmental and economic benefits to the community. The lamination of papers into panel for furniture, carriages etc constituted a major industry in the UK during the last century. A new family of "structural" papers must be manufactured which allow for rapid dispersion and penetration of the polymer during impregnation. Considerable research is also required in the formulation of new resin systems which will impart toughness, water resistance and a chosen degree of flexibility to the composites. Resins will be chosen which can be cost-effectively integrated into existing papermaking and industrial laminating processes. The challenge is to manufacture long-lasting, structural composites wich minimum polymer impregnation. The materials must be aesthetically pleasing and "woody". A cornerstone of the project is that these materials must be as durable as high quality wood. Laboratory and pilot scale samples shall be manufactured and tested by chosen RTD's then evaluated at different stages by all partners-from fibre production to end users (furniture manufacturers) - a concurrent engineering philosophy shall be adopted. All material components shall be evaluated for environmental impact introducing a life cycle approach to composite design.
Funding SchemeEAW - Exploratory awards