The purpose of this project is two fold. It includes a complete characterization of the properties and structure of the main types of white cork agglomerates, on the one hand, and the development of new compositions and new materials incorporating cork, on the other.
The project concentrated on both white and black cork agglomerates. The main traditional white cork agglomerates were characterised and their behaviour is now better understood. New prepolymers with different structure were synthesised and white cork agglomerates developed. These new agglomerates with an optimised composition were already produced in industry. In addition, new black cork agglomerates were developed from the traditional ones and the new process to produce densified black cork agglomerates was patented. The new products were also evaluated from the economical point of view and were found to be viable.
A variety of properties important to the applications of the white cork agglomerates will be measured, and attempts will be made at modelling these materials in order to predict properties and to enable the design of new agglomerates. New adhesives will be developed and tested, and the effect of other relevant parameters (eg granulometry of cork, curing conditions of the adhesive) will be investigated. The project also includes the development of new high density black cork agglomerates and of new materials obtained from cork powder, and important byproduct of cork industry of virtually no economic value at present.
The research to be carried out involves:
Selection and production of white cork agglomerates for characterization, determination of granulometry distribution of cork particles.
Property and structure characterization of the selected white cork agglomerates:
structural observations by SEM;
compression, stress relaxation and creep, recovery of dimensions following unloading;
tension, bending and fracture;
friction and wear, effects of liquids;
damping capacity and impact strength;
fire resistance and flammability;
Characterization of adhesives by measurement of bulk properties in compression. Wettability of cork particles by the adhesives.
Curing of the adhesives. Optimization of the curing process through the control of various parameters.
Modelling of agglomerates as particle composites. Prediction of properties.
Preparation in a pilot reactor of new adhesives with a modified molecular structure to optimize performance of the agglomerates.
Performance of stoppers produced from white cork agglomerates. Optimization of composition and fabrication methods.
Densification of black cork agglomerates.
New materials from cork powder.
Industrial implementation of new methods and products.