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Advanced glasses, Composites And Ceramics for High growth Industries

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CoACH (Advanced glasses, Composites And Ceramics for High growth Industries)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-12-31

The CoACH project is a European Training Network co-funded by the European Commission through the Marie Sklodowska-Curie action of Horizon 2020 (2015-2018). Politecnico di Torino coordinated the CoACH involving multiple actors in the innovation ecosystem for advanced materials; five universities and ten enterprises in seven different European countries. A total of 15 early stage researchers worked in close relationship with industrial and business partners, developing new antibacterial materials, innovative materials for energy production and harvesting, sensors for harsh environments and building materials from industrial wastes. The CoACH research outcomes are poised to be commercially exploited in industrial applications and commercial products. The individual research projects of the 15 researchers concerned:
• novel, antibacterial and nanostructured coatings for medical devices and implants for dental, orthopaedic and tissue engineering applications. They can help to reduce bacterial infections and cut the use of antibiotics by patients
• innovative glass fibre sensors that can monitor the degradation of polymer composites in harsh environments
• innovative thermoelectric materials using non-toxic elements and new manufacturing techniques for more efficient thermoelectric devices
• new glass-ceramic and ceramic materials that are able to increase the reliability of solid oxide electrolysis cells
• materials for eco-sustainable buildings produced from industrial waste

The project was the result of a synergic interaction between industry and universities with the objective of training through research and preparation for careers in both the academic and private sectors: researchers have acquired, besides scientific and technical competences, also soft skills like entrepreneurship and communication.
The main scientific and technological results achieved by the CoACH researchers are:
At ERLANGEN, an innovative ordered mesoporous bioactive and antibacterial silver-doped glass was developed using a sol-gel technique. At COLOR, in collaboration with ERLANGEN, a bioinspired approach was used to develop a new antibacterial nanostructured hybrid coating. At NANOFORCE, electric current assisted sintering involving rapid heating was used to develop new processing routes to produce new biocompatible and antibacterial coatings.
The collaboration between POLITO, nLIGHT and COLOR concerned the synthesis of rare earth doped nanoparticles using soft chemistry and the fabrication and characterisation of novel Er3+doped bioactive glass-ceramics. The investigated glasses possess good thermal stability and are very promising for the fabrication of fibre lasers and amplifiers.
The POLITO team, in collaboration with ELEMENT, manufactured, integrated and tested new and low cost evanescent wave optical sensors for monitoring the diffusion of corrosive sea water and degradation through the thickness of glass fibre reinforced polymers used in harsh conditions. ELEMENT’s work also focused on developing a dead weight creep test rig to evaluate creep stress rupture of the materials under investigation at different temperatures and stress levels, in collaboration with IPM, and on setting up an ageing study to investigate the effect of seawater and synthetic oil on the neat resin.
At UR1, in collaboration with DIAFIR, the thermoelectric properties of several new compositions of chalcogenide glasses, glass ceramics and polycrystalline materials have been tested. At NANOFORCE, it has developed a rapid processing route (1,000 °C/min) using a modified spark plasma sintering furnace, and promising results were obtained with silicide thermoelectrics. A remarkably high and stable thermoelectric zT of close to 2 was achieved by manipulating the electronic bands in Ga-Sb co-doped GeTe, which was processed by hybrid flash-spark plasma sintering. NANOFORCE, ETL and POLITO developed new joining methods and protective layers for thermoelectrics to enable the production of efficient demonstrator thermoelectric modules.
The high operation temperature and the harsh environment to which solid oxide cells are exposed, leads to several critical issues responsible for their degradation. The study by IPM has been targeted to the behaviour of the single cell, also known as MEA (Membrane Electrode Assembly). The obtained results were used to extract the elastic behaviour of individual layers, suitable as an input for future simulations. Besides, new silica–based glass-ceramic compositions were designed and characterised as sealant materials by POLITO in close collaboration with SUNFIRE. Demonstrator short stacks were built at SUNFIRE using two of the most promising glass compositions and MnCo coated Crofer22APU interconnects.
At UNIPD, starting from mixtures of recycled glasses and inorganic waste, dense proppants were produced with a total residual porosity not exceeding 4% and compressive strength in the order of 140-170 MPa.
ERLANGEN, in collaboration with SASIL, fabricated different geopolymers formulations at low temperatures with a low cost and low environmental impact process by using silicate wastes. Additionally, at UNIPD a new process was developed and used to convert recycled soda-lime into highly porous glass foams (porosity exceeding 85%) at only 700 °C, i.e. at a far lower temperature than those required by conventional methods, after alkali activation, gelification and mechanical foaming of gelified suspensions. The collaboration between IPM, UNIPD, ERLANGEN and SASIL was extended to new formulations, comprising recycled glasses and other inorganic waste, such as red mud and fly ash. Dense waste-derived geopolymers exhibited very good mechanical properties (>100 MPa compressive strength) despite being prepared with a low temperature curing.

Furthermore, the CoACH ESRs have been trained by IDP’s instructors with a built-in training provision that combines their scientific skills with increased business and entrepreneurial capacity.
All of the research activities carried out in CoACH have strong potential for excellent research and technological development and for disseminating and converting the results into social and economic benefits. A comprehensive exploitation plan was developed by each CoACH fellow before the end of the project.
The excellent results from CoACH have already been published on more than 55 scientific papers in international peer-reviewed journals, including a Special Issue of Materials,
Network Workshops were designed to promote knowledge transfer among the academic and industrial partners. The CoACH Final Workshop “Advanced materials for high growth industries - from the PhD to industrial innovation” was a great opportunity for young researchers to hear from the private sector what are the skills and professional profiles most sought-after.
Moreover, the participation of several of the researchers at International Conferences and the CoACH stall at the annual EU Researchers’ Night, together with talks at schools and open-access scientific publications meant that everyone had the opportunity to learn about this cutting-edge field of materials science.