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ANNUAL FIBRE REINFORCED POLYPROPYLENE COMPOSITES FOR INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS : DEVELOPMENT OF A QUALITY CONTROLLED FIBRE PRODUCTION CHAIN

Objective

The project has three objectives, being :

1. stimulation of the industrial use of annual fibre crops which can be grown
in EU countries, especially indigenous crops like flax and hemp;
2. development and optimisation of (pre)treatment and processing methods
for annual fibres to specifically adapt them to function as reinforcers in
composites with the synthetic thermoplastic polypropylene (PP);
3. development of a composite material composed of polypropylene,
isotropically reinforced by randomly oriented annual fibres (AFPP) and use
of such material in industrial applications particularly automotive components.

These objectives will be pursued by an integrated approach covering the complete production chain of AFPP, including fibre production, fibre opening, fibre treatment, matrix treatment, compounding process and production of actual prototype parts from composite materials. The most important issues for the purpose of the production of AFPP based parts with favourable properties, include :

- optimisation of fibres' physical and chemical characteristics by the fibre
opening ('pulping') process;
- development of treatments to alter the composition of the individual fibres
more radically by introduction of new components in/on the fibres; this
project will develop two different treatments, the one making use of
physically bonded hydrophobation agents and offering the possibility of
relatively easy integration with the aforementioned opening process, the
other being based on actual derivatisation by reaction with maleic anhydride
(MA) and producing a more profound composition change as well as the
possibility to obtain an addition chemical link with the matrix;
- adaptation of the PP to increase its suitability as a matrix;
- development of an efficient compounding process and in conjunction,
development of feeder technology applicable to dry (pretreated) annual fibres;
- optimisation of end-product manufacturing techniques to fully exploit the
properties of AFPP.

Criteria of major importance, next to the material properties, will be the environmental impact (investigated in particular as part of the Life Cycle Analysis) and costs of the individual process steps as well as the integrated processing chain. The target material annual fibre reinforced PP can be processed by extrusion and injection moulding which are the most important techniques in the plastics industry. Currently, there are no commercial thermoplastic polymer composites which are actually reinforced by lignocellulosic sources while at the same time being processible by the
aforementioned techniques.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

ATO - DLO - AGROTECHNOLOGICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Address
Bornsesteeg, 59 - P.o. Box 17
6700 AA Wageningen
Netherlands

Participants (3)

CELULOSA DE LEVANTE S.A.
Spain
Address
Crta. Comarcal 235, Km. 4,8 - P.o. Box 76
43500 Tortosa
ECIA - EQUIPEMENTS ET COMPOSANTS POUR L'AUTOMOBILE S.A.
France
Address
Rue De Seloncourt, 88 - P.o. Box 79
25402 Audincourt
SOLVAY S.A.
Belgium
Address
Rue De Ransbeek, 310
1120 Bruxelles