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Nafen Report Summary

Project ID: 685213

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Nafen (Nano-particle based enhancement of composite and thermoplastic materials)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2017-01-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Advanced polymer materials are increasingly used in modern technologies and may help in tackling some challenging aspects or environmental issues in aerospace, automotive, energy, and other global industries. Going to nanoscale offers many possibilities, where nano-reinforced and nanostructured polymer materials provide interesting properties and solutions. The large potential of those materials is predicted in the applications ranging from improved engineering to energy-storage for instance. Modification of various polymer materials with the aim to enhance their physical and mechanical properties is one of the most important problems in this area. ANF Development OU (ANF) addresses key challenges in using nanomaterials for polymer modification: difficulty in accessing nanofiber, which would give effect at low loadings and at the same time can be industrially available at a low cost. Existing nanomaterials, which are currently used for this purpose, are either unavailable on large scale (single wall CNTs) or require high loads in a polymer (multi-wall CNTs, nano silicas, nano-clays).

ANF is the first-ever producer of Nafen™ nanofibers in industrial volumes, with production costs comparable to that of traditional materials. Currently, ANF has developed several applications for Nafen™ nanofiber that include Nafen™-modified thermoplastics and Nafen™-modified composite bonding materials.

The overall objectives of the project are: (1) setting up a solid footprint within the European thermoplastics and thermosets manufacturers and thus (2) changing the many end products. Depending on the application, end customers will enjoy better products with lower costs and/or lower product weight. Alternatively, same end products will have higher margins at lower price levels, which will ultimately benefit both manufacturers and the end users.

From the project results, it can be concluded that Nafen™ masterbatches and masterbatch-based products positively impact the mechanical performance of advanced materials, engineered plastics, and composites. The value-added benefits provided by very small loadings of Nafen™ in engineered composites, plastics, coatings, adhesives and bonding systems will potentially reset the performance level that manufacturers produce end products at. Previous commodity style products can assume a higher performance role and thus make everyday products much more valuable in markets they couldn't compete in before. Use of Nafen™ masterbatches makes it possible to (1) achieve reduced weight in polymer goods by using less material or making more durable goods, (2) achieve fuel economy over the lifecycle of airplanes and vehicles, (3) replace traditional materials from their applications. Hence, interest in Nafen™ as a nano enhancer for polymers can be demonstrated by the fact that ANF is continuing to carry out the work with potential partners and existing clients to support further go-to-market steps as well as identify new prospective applications of Nafen™-based products.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

ANF has improved its expertise in two main areas. The first area was the production of Nafen™ fibers and Nafen™ modified plastics and composite materials. Second – building strong relations with industrial partners, joint product development of Nafen™ modified materials for composites and plastics, and dissemination of project results.

During the project period, the list of prospective candidates for joint product development was drafted and used for further cooperation. Going on with potential partners ANF has received a list of lead technical and safety requirements and implemented industrial partner’s recommendations for masterbatches composition and dilution in plastics and composites. The first exploitable results of Nafen™ modified systems for laminated composites were received and presented to the industry at several advanced material exhibitions. One of the remarkable achievements is the start of the joint product development program for yacht production together with Devonport Marine (an Alchemie Group company (UK)). On the basis of these results and taking into consideration the requirements of the industrial consumers, the new line of products for bonding systems of laminated composites – “Dynabond” was developed and tested with the industry benchmark solutions.

The main technological tasks of the project – the start and expansion of the pilot lines for Nafen™ modified composite materials and Nafen™ modified plastics production along with Nafen™ production facility upgrade have been fully implemented.

Dissemination and communication of the project results were mainly done through the participation in conferences and exhibitions, updating of the website content and updating of various social media channels. The dissemination efforts were directed to bring relevant information to the public's attention and attract potential customers who will benefit from the use of ANF products. The main activity was aimed to focus on the Nafen™ competitive edge, providing higher performance at lower costs. Exploitation of the result consisted of working on the IP applications as well as providing the samples to research organizations and industrial partners.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The results of the tests of Nafen™ modified materials that were performed in-house and by industrial partners, confirmed 20-50% improvements in mechanical properties of end products. These results support our expectations on project impact that were stated in DoA. In addition to the reported results the price comparisons of Nafen™ – much less than Euro 1 per gr – and other nanomaterials – Euro 1 to Euro 10 per gr – gives Nafen™ unmatched potential for market adoption.

Nafen™ modified bonding agents which are widely used in laminated composites (based on carbon and glass fibers) demonstrate enhancements of main mechanical properties by 30-45%, which could result in a decrease of up to 20% in the weight of finished goods made of composite material. This means that a new generation aircraft (e.g. A350XWB or Boeing 787), which consists of 50%+ of composite materials by weight would be able to reduce its total weight by up to 10%. For example, the Airbus A340 having a maximum weight of 275,000kg and typical empty weight of 129,000kg uses 9.275kg of fuel for every kilometer. If we apply a 10% reduction in empty weight, the aircraft would consume 8.840kg of fuel for every kilometer. Eventually, it could result in additional savings of 4.35 tons of fuel per 10 000 km of flight.

An average vehicle consists of at least 130 kg of plastics and composites (American Composites Manufacturers). Based on mechanical property improvements in composites and plastics with Nafen™ modifications, we might expect a 10% weight reduction resulting in 13kg weight savings per vehicle. This will result in a 1.04% average vehicle weight decrease, which is equivalent to 1 gr of CO2/km emission reduction.

OECD in its Environmental Outlook (2001) expects a substantial increase in transport activity by 2020. This indicator measured in motor vehicle kilometers traveled (VKT) will reach 20,000 billion VKT worldwide, including 5,000 billion VKT in Europe. Wide adoption of Nafen™ enhanced polymers could lead to Carbon dioxide emission reduction by 20mn tons/year worldwide, including 5mn tons/year in Europe.

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