Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - NCC-FOAM (Self-assembly of nano crystalline cellulose for lightweight cellular structures)

Executive Summary:
Cellulose, the primary structural component of plants, is the most ubiquitous and abundant organic compound on the planet. When cellulose fibrils are processed under carefully controlled conditions, it is possible to release highly crystalline nano-particles known as “nano crystalline cellulose (NCC)”. NCC-FOAM partners have developed a unique technique for self-assembling NCC into highly ordered “puff-pastry-like” layered cellular structures, i.e. foams. This self-assembly process is controllable, and the final cell structure can be modified to produce open or closed cell geometries depending on the requirements of the end application. Furthermore, the constituent NCC nanofibres are sustainably sourced from paper mill or forestry waste.
The controlled patterning of the nano-structure during the self-assembly process facilitates the infusion of resins for stiffening / strengthening and the production of foams with customised internal structures and directional strength. The inherent strength of the NCC skeleton means that only minimal quantities of reinforcing resin are needed, resulting in lightweight and cost-effective foams.

Project Context and Objectives:
Within NCC-FOAM, the overall objective is to develop an NCC foam/resin composite that enables the design, development and processing of sustainable structural foam materials. The use of infused resins has yet to be developed, the challenge being to produce foams that are simultaneously structural, durable and renewably-sourced. If successful, this would represent a true breakthrough for rigid foam technology. Furthermore, NCC-FOAM aims to bring the production techniques closer to industrialisation by developing the methods and equipment to produce foams with meaningful practical dimensions (at least 1 m x 0.5 m x 20mm). Such samples will allow the feasibility of future industrialisation to be assessed, as well as permitting a full characterisation of the materials.

Project Results:
The main goal of WP2 was to develop the self-assembly of the NCC into virgin foam materials from very small lab scale to a stable lab process producing panels in dimensions of 200 x 300 x 10 mm. In order to achieve those goals the WP was divided to four tasks that cover the different aspects of the technology

The first step in WP2, which was not defined as a specific task, was to find bio-based binders to strengthen the virgin foam structure. Different materials were screened and one of the biobased binders showed excellent results following addition to NCC

Task 2.1 Ice templating
NCC is produced by sulfuric acid hydrolysis of cellulose which results in negatively charged nano-particles that form stable suspensions in water. The stability of the suspension is achieved through the electrostatic repulsion of the particles which works against their tendency to form hydrogen bonds and to aggregate. Freezing of the suspension drives the crystals towards each other to a point where hydrogen bonding overcomes the electrostatic repulsion resulting in self-assembly of the nano-particles to macrostructures. Once the ice is removed, voids are formed resulting in a light foamed structure. Consequently it is important to investigate the mechanism in order to be able to control the process and form high quality foams. Therefore, the main goal of task 2.1 was to study the specific ice crystal growth mechanisms.

In the work plan it was planned to produce the foams with Z alignment of the NCC fibers in order to reach a high compressive strength. This can be achieved if the freezing of the NCC slurry is performed in a single direction where the NCC assembles in parallel to the growing ice crystals. As first step, a small scale research device was built which enabled to better investigate the freezing and self-assembly mechanisms. The temperature gradient was controlled by a computer and the device was equipped with a camera to allow live monitoring of the ice growth. The device allowed optimizing the freezing conditions and it was concluded that a cooling rate of 5 °C / min is sufficient to produce highly aligned foams.

Based on these findings a new scaled up freezing stage was designed and built. The stage was used to produce foams with the required dimensions of 200 x 300 x 10 mm. Though we were able to produce several samples, this technology was highly challenging for scaling up so research was initiated for simplifying the foaming process which ended up with a modified production method for isotropic foams. An outcome of this research was an improved method where the NCC slurry is pre-foamed with detergents into a “whipped cream” texture followed by freezing. The new foams are homogenous (shown by electron microscopy) and the method is significantly simpler, compared to the aligned foams. It is highly likely to be successfully scaled up to industrial production. Based on these results, it was decided to continue the foam production using this method as an alternative to the aligned foams.

An additional important result was related to the foaming moulds. In the original design the moulds were built with plastic frames mounted to a copper thermally-conductive bottom. The frame’s height was around 100 mm forming a container which allows the freezing and solvent exchange in one pot. Once we began production of the pre-whipped foams it was necessary to reduce the frame height to the exact volume of the foams to allow levelling of the top and produce foams with smooth surface.

Task 2.2 Solvent exchange and evaporation
The main goal of this task was scaling-up of solvent exchange processes to match the 200 x 300 x 10 mm foams.

Following the freezing step the foams are dipped in solvent in order to remove the water from the foams. Part of the scaling up considerations was optimizing the solvent selection and ratios. Prior to the beginning of the project a small scale process was developed which included several exchanges into ethanol followed by final dipping in hexane and in some cases also acetone. An important progress during the project led to the ability to discard the use of acetone and hexane which significantly simplified the process.

Once the lab scale process was optimized by Melodea, a full technological transfer was performed which included a two days’ workshop in Melodea involving all relevant partners (HUJI, DAPP, BLATRADEN, SICOMP, BALANCE) most importantly a chemical engineers from DAPP that enabled the design of the pilot process to be implemented in WP5. The work was able to set the chemical and process engineering considerations for industrial scale-up and to develop a method by which the solvents can be captured and recycled.

Task 2.3 NCC foam strengthening
The main goal of this task was production of virgin foams capable of vacuum resin infusion, with compressive strength of 0.7-0.9 MPa

A major aim in the research for crosslinking methods was to use only biobased chemicals. The goal was to crosslink the NCC fibres by the formation of short chain polyesters within the foams.

A major achievement was to introduce the crosslinking during the solvent exchange. During the solvent exchange process the foam was transferred to a solvent bath containing the crosslinking bio-based proprietary monomers. By the end of that process the foam was placed in an oven for evaporation of the solvent and crosslinking, resulting in the “yellow foam”.

In the original plan, resin infusion was planned to be performed in WP3. During the course of work, an alternative method was developed based on immersing the yellow crosslinked foam in a second bath of crosslinking monomers in solution which also contained fire retarding chemicals. The monomers are based on furfuryl alcohol and the fire retarding chemicals are all “green” and do not contain halogens. The second crosslinking resulted in improved foam properties including strength, water resistance and fire retardation.

In addition, HUJI successfully developed a green method for the chemical modification (butyration and acetylation) of NCC via butyric and acetic anhydride with iodine as a catalyst. Our results indicated that acetylated NCC (ANCC) as well as Butyrated NCC (BNCC) exhibited exceptional hydrophobicity, retained crystallinity and exhibited thermotropic liquid crystalline behavior. Both modified NCC enable liquid crystalline transformation from a smectic to nematic form, at high temperatures, and displays a commendable increase in thermal stability, when compared to that of NCC. In addition they are fully dispersible in different organic solvents. Methacrylation of NCC towards UV-crosslinking was also performed by HUJI. Our results indicate that methacrylated NCC (MA-NCC) form stable hydrogels when crosslinked.

Task 2.4 Virgin NCC foam characterization.
The main goal of this task was characterization and analysis of the virgin foams structure and morphology
In order to meet the required foam properties, over 20 foams were produced and the formulation was constantly improved until the required mechanical and fire properties were reached. Upon achieving the desired properties four identical foams were produced and tested for density and compression. The crosslinked foams produced under the optimized formulation reached an average density of 194 kg/m3 and compressive strength of 1.64 MPa which comply with the requirements of the WP for density and compressive strength.

Microscopic characterization of freeze dried small NCC foams (20 mm diameter & 20 mm height) was conducted. Samples were freeze dried and analysed by optical microscopy, electron microscopy (SEM), and high-resolution computer tomography (µCT). Optical microscopy was found to be the simplest and least expensive method for qualitative evaluation of the NCC foams alignment. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) required more tedious preparation including slicing and metal coating of the samples, but when slicing was successful SEM disclosed the NCC foam order with the highest resolution. High-resolution 3D X-ray imaging (µCT) was an accurate (1-5µm resolution) technique for 3D examination without any pre-treatment of the NCC foam. The same sample could be used later for other tests as well, such as compression test and SEM. Typical µCT scans took 3-10 hrs and provided the most comprehensive information about the foams in 3D.

Microscopic characterization of A4 foams was also conducted. Initial analysis was performed by Melodea. Foam samples were cut and analysed by SEM which showed a clear isotropic structure for the foams. During the drying and crosslinking steps the bubble structure was maintained and dictated the final foam into spherical structures.
Foam samples were also analysed by SICOMP for more profound SEM analysis which confirmed their open-cell structure. Also it is important to point out that its totally isotropic, a characteristic that is good for the mechanical properties as well as for the impregnation behaviour during the resin infusion. The average pore size was 100 ± 32 µm. The single sheet thickness is 5 µm, similar to the laminated foam. The spheres have an open celled structure and they are relatively homogenous throughout the foam.
Finally, foam formulation and foam formation process were further improved, leading to increased strength and significantly decreased foam costs.
The new formula for NCC foams contains 90% pulp and xyloglucan and 10% NCC. After the addition of a detergent and the “whipping” of the suspension, the foams can be frozen at only -20°C compared to much lower temperatures used for freezing before. Moreover, the new formula foams dries better after using only ethanol for solvent exchange. The resulted virgin foams have density of 30-40 Kg/m3, have improved mechanical performance, and are also more flexible and durable, compared to previously prepared foams. In addition, the new foam formula significantly decreases the costs of the foam production and improves the upscaling ability of the process.

Work package 2 developed two different formulations of NCC-foams, one with 100% NCC and one with 90% pulp and 10% NCC. The later has great advantage in production cost and will most probably suit the market better. Both foams have been investigation in terms of impregnation possibility, mechanical and fire performance.
The production method of the foam with 100% NCC made it possible to impregnate the foam structure already during manufacturing while the second type of foam has to be impregnated after the ice template. This resulted in a uniform impregnation of the 100% NCC foam while the impregnation of the 90/10 foam created a core-skin effect where a higher amount of impregnation resin is found around the surface of the impregnated pieces. The core-skin effect can be solved by adding a small amount of latex to the NCC-Water slurry prior freeze drying. If no latex is present will a core-skin effect occur, this effect can be minimized by repeatedly dipping in resin solvent solution.
The impregnated foams have been investigated by density, compression, shear and tension testing. As comparison the same tests have been carried out on by commonly used by industry PET foam. The results show that the NCC foams can reach the level of the reference foam, but at a higher density. A higher density is a disadvantage when aiming for light weight solution but constitutes an advantage when aiming for properties like sound and vibration damping.
The overall conclusion from WP3 is that the NCC foams have great possibility to reach the market at certain application markets.

Sandwich materials manufactured with the impregnated foam with 100% NCC were compared with sandwich materials with PET as oil-based reference core material. Two different types of prepregs were used as facing materials. A glass fibre epoxy prepreg as reference material and glass fibre PFA prepreg as partly bio-based alternative. The PET foam used is the commercially available AIREX® T92, manufactured by the Swiss company Airex AG. The infused NCC-foam used was provided by Melodea. Here, both foam types (Pet and NCC) have a thickness of 10mm. The foam developed within WP3 with 90% pulp and10% NCC has not been used for production of sandwich.
Short beam two point load (4 point) bending according to ASTM C393 was selected as relevant testing method for the sandwich materials. This test gives the maximum shear stress and the shear modulus of the foam.
The results show that the maximum shear stress level for both of the PET foam sandwich materials is in the same range o but that the sandwich with PFA glass fibre prepreg facing show a nonlinear and ductile behaviour in contrast to the one with Epoxy glass fibre prepreg facing. Also, it can be seen that the NCC foam glass fibre epoxy sandwich show a linear behaviour but only reaches a tenth of the maximum shear stress reached for the PET sandwich. From this it is concluded that the linear versus nonlinear behaviour is due to the facing material.
The overall conclusion is that the tested NCC foam does not reach the properties of the reference PET foam. The NCC foam is in early development and show good potential to reach the market.

The main result of work package 5 is the definition of all the parameters, working operations and lessons learnt for the production of nanocellulose foam in a pilot scale, proving the feasibility and quality of results out of the controlled lab condition. In particular, the result is related to the innovations and process approaches that are implemented in order to permit the production of differentiated and tailored types of foam. Currently existing best practices in mixing, freezing, solvent exchange, resin infusion and drying processes as well as existing safety elements have been integrated in an innovative manner. In particular, plants and production elements from the food process industry have been exploited, enabling also lower costs, standards already respected and inferior time to market. Different types of resins are tested on the white foam in order to verify the infusion process and addressing therefore the feasibility of the final product aimed by the project: a rigid biobased nanocomposite foam applicable in the composites industry.

During the course of the project, the white foam production process was constantly developed until a final, optimized formulation has been defined. The foam is characterized by stability and suitability for scaling up, as well as sustainability (reduced content of the highly costly nanocellulose constituent). The formula includes a mixture of nanocellulose suspension, pulp and a bio-based resin.
The synthesis of the foam occurs through the implementation of the functional approach designed as upscaled process from the lab expertise. The following steps are therefore contemplated (addressing the unit operations on the basis of the equipment used):
• Mixing and foaming: the raw materials in adequate proportions are mixed into an industrial food mixer, generating the raw material feed to the process, and in the same batch the foaming takes place;
• Moulding: the foam is poured in to moulds of the desired shape;
• Freezing: freezing equipment is used for consolidating the foam, granting to achieve contemporary shape control and fast process through internal cold air circulation;
• Solvent exchange: The water included in the foam is extracted with solvent and washed out from the foam;
• Resin infusion: within the same solvent, used as a carrier, resin is added with the purpose of consolidating the foam structure and achieving the required rigidity at the aimed density;
• Drying: standard oven is used to dry the panels, in controlled environment and in the respect of the environmental standards for emissions of VOC into the atmosphere. Exchange, infusion and drying are all performed into ATEX compliant environment.

The process proved to be highly stable and repeatable, as it emerged from the comparison of the good results in the lab scale, in Israel, and the replication at the pilot scale in Italy and Sweden.
Results have been further pre-validated at the up-scaled level, within a long term operation of the industrial pilot. This provides a stronger visibility of the potential for the project to deliver industrial relevant results, and permits the identification of the fundamental unit operations for the future implementation, and the relevant equipment (e.g. reactors, pumps, piping, conveyance systems, etc.). All of them have been dimensioned, and potential suppliers identified to ease a future industrial application.

A range of most relevant practical applications of the newly developed NCC foam sandwich material have been identified and detailed for the sectors maritime industry and construction industry. Building components such as bathroom units, balconies, floors and facade elements are potential applications in the construction industry. For the maritime sector the usage for interior and exterior application for both structural and non-structural components is conceivable. The combined use of the NCC foam based sandwich material for external structural components and internal wall and ceiling systems was identified as the most effective application for the maritime sector with respect to the main motivation for the introduction of novel materials, which is saving of weight. The most appealing application in construction industry is the bathrooms in wood constructions where the composites resistance to moisture can limit the massive problems with water damages. Specific case study applications have been selected accordingly and detailed requirements, specific performance criteria as well as applicable rules and regulations have been identified. This case study definition document may also act as a guideline to support the access of further fields of application.
Two full-scale demonstrators, a complete bathroom unit and section of a ship’s superstructure including interior wall and ceiling system are now available. The demonstrators give a representative overview of the potential applications in the respective sector and will showcase the performance, appearance and finished quality of the innovative material in the final application selected.
Comprehensive performance and material behaviour tests have proven the principle compliance of the NCC foam sandwich material with specific requirements of intended applications, but have also identified actual application limits in terms of strength and fire safety or by relevant legislation. Prescriptive regulations in SOLAS (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) for example basically require the use of steel or an approved equivalent material for hull, superstructures, decks and structural bulkheads whereas internal linings, partitions and ceilings shall be made of approved non-combustible material. For commercial shipbuilding applications, this is actual limiting the use of novel composite materials which not formally comply with the requirements and definitions of non-combustibility and steel-equivalence given in SOLAS. The key to overcome this limitation can be SOLAS II-2, Reg. 17 “Alternative designs and arrangements”. It allows deviations from the prescriptive requirements provided the alternative design and arrangements meet the fire safety objectives and functional requirements. This (equivalent) safety level has to be demonstrated by an engineering analysis and need to be evaluated and approved by the regulatory authorities. This engineering analysis requires a significant effort and was therefore not conducted for the case study within this project.

All data sets and test results derived by the performance tests conducted in WP 6 will be the basis for further development of NCC foam sandwich materials.

The objective of WP7 is to perform environmental life cycle assessments (LCAs) and life cycle costings (LCCs) on the NCC foam materials and their sandwich constructions. The results of LCAs and LCCs can be used as a guide to sustainable/affordable development within the project, and in support of future market appropriation.

Environmental LCA
Life cycle assessments were performed for the developed novel NCC-based materials and their associated products, including their manufacturing, use & operation and end-of-life phases. Environmental hotspots were identified for the novel materials, and the opportunities of future improvement were recommended. Furthermore, comparisons were made between the novel materials and their conventional counterparts (established industrial scale solutions such as PET foam or steel/mineral wool). The LCAs were conducted based upon the standards defined in ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 and not only covered the cradle to factory gate processes, but the entire life cycle from cradle to grave.

In Task 7.1, cradle-to-factory-gate LCAs of the developed NCC-based material (including white NCC foam and infused foam) have been carried out first on a kg-basis. Cradle-to-grave LCAs have been carried out later for two NCC-foam based end-product applications, i.e. a ship cabin and a bathroom floor. The environmental indicators analysed are non-renewable energy use (NREU) and GHG emissions. The impacts were compared with the conventional counterparts, i.e. a steel/mineral wool structure for cabin and a PET foam composite structure for bathroom floors.

The LCA results show that the novel NCC-foam materials have higher impacts compared to the conventional counterparts (on a kg basis), which are established industrial scale solutions. Process energy is the most important contributor to the environmental impact. Upscaling to industrial scale and switching to green electricity could substantially reduce the impact of the novel material.

The environmental LCA has followed the entire course of the R&D in this project, making this task a unique assessment task compared to many other R&D projects. Several generations of production have been assessed in this task including, e.g. lab scale synthesis, to conceptual design and to the commissioned pilot trial. As a result, the environmental impacts were continuously observed and monitored. For example, the GHG emissions of NCC white foam based on the pilot trial was only 15% of the impact based on the earlier lab scale synthesis. The future generation of white foam, which is assumed to be produced on an industrial scale and using more efficient/green energy sources for the process, could further reduce its impact by 40%.

However, for the bathroom floor application, the current infused NCC foam still has a higher environmental impact compared to the conventional counterpart - virgin PET foam. It is still hard for the present NCC foam to compete with PET foam. Nevertheless, it should be noted that PET foam is produced on a large industrial scale and NCC foam is still an infant product. It is common to know that new materials often have higher impacts than the existing solutions. Future process optimisation and production upscaling could potentially reduce the environmental impact of the novel material.

A promising application of NCC foam is for the maritime industry. The cradle-to-grave LCA of a ship cabin shows that the NCC-foam cabin could offer environmental impact savings compared to the conventional solution consisting of steel and mineral wool. The weight of the NCC-foam cabin is only 20-60% of the weight of the conventional solution, which offers substantial fuel and emission savings during the operational phase of the cabin. In addition, a breakeven analysis indicates that a minimal thickness should be achieved in order to ensure the environmental benefits of the NCC-foam cabin.

The early-stage EHS assessment came to two conclusions: 1) the NCC samples are not toxic to aquatic organisms of different trophic level; and 2) the “blacklist” scan showed that some chemicals used in the production of NCC foam/infused NCC foam are flagged. Attention should be paid to these chemicals at the early-stage R&D, and it is advised to substitute these ‘flagged’ chemicals whenever possible.

Life cycle costing
In the second period of Task 7.2 “Life cycle costing (LCC)”, the preliminary life cycle cost models of the end-user cases have been modelled in detail. To this end, the relevant input data and dependencies have been gathered in several interviews and workshops, before the findings were transferred into the software-tool BAL.LCPA.

The life cycle cost models allow end-user stakeholders to insert their own parameters according to their own cost schemes. In the maritime end-user case, the life cycle cost model is flexible enough to consider different utilisations of the potential weight savings achieved by the application of NCC-Foam. Stakeholders can consider the reduced power consumption associated with the weight savings or add additional revenues gained thanks to payload increase. In addition, different fuel cost price developments can be considered and compared, which affect the results expressed as the key performance indicator net-present value. First model calculations indicate a substantial life cycle cost saving of NCC-Foam wall panels in the maritime end-user case thanks its significant weight saving potential.
Besides the development of the life cycle cost model, the NCC-foam production costs are estimated based on the production trials within the NCC-foam project. The results serve as input to the developed LCC-models to evaluate the profitability of the end-user applications.

The market analysis of potential NCC-Foam material technologies indicates the economic potential of the novel material and provides guidance towards profitable business opportunities for specific project partners.

The Innovation risk management alongside the project´s research activities has been completed. Thereby, the risk assessment focused on the risks associated with achieving key exploitable results defined. For each key exploitable results, potential risks have been identified and rated on a scale from 1 to 10 in terms of “Degree of importance of the risk related to the final achievement of the KER”, “Probability of risk happening” and “Probability of successful intervention”. The result is a risk map for each KER that recommends an action type for each identified risk in dependence of the rating.

The main dissemination channel for the project has been the website ( and through attendance at events such as SMM.

A range of marketing collateral was produced including flyers, posters, postcards, booklets, case study datasheets and videos. These were utilised at events, conferences and workshops to aid in the effective dissemination of the project.

Potential Impact:
In WP2 a stable lab process for production of panels in dimensions of 200 x 300 x 10 mm was successfully established. This achievement enabled the foam production process to be scaled up in WP5 of the project and also enabled polymer infusion into the foams in WP3. The development set the base for filling of new patent applications and provided a proof of concept for further industrial production of the NCC foam product. Once the lab scale process was optimized by Melodea, a full technological transfer was performed which included a two days’ workshop in Melodea involving all relevant partners (HUJI, DAPP, BLATRADEN, SICOMP, BALANCE) most importantly a chemical engineers from DAPP that enabled the design of the pilot process to be implemented in WP5. The work was able to set the chemical and process engineering considerations for industrial scale-up and to develop a method by which the solvents can be captured and recycled.

The pilot-scale manufacturing cell for NCC foam panels has been successfully designed, installed and operated. Moreover, the pilot plants related to the two identified functional units have been commissioned and their performance tested. These activities have been performed in strict cooperation with BRIMEE Project (GA 608910). The results of WP5, on the basis of the performances of the materials produced, represent an opportunity to address the future, upscaled and standardised performances of the process. The capacity demonstrated to evolve from laboratory to the pilot industrial scale is evidence of the potential of the material to become, after the project conclusion, a real business opportunity. For this reason, a conceptual design of the full industrial scale foam manufacturing plant has been performed.

The WP 6 case studies and the corresponding performance test results confirm the principle potential of the NCC foam as basis to produce lightweight sandwich components for application in maritime and construction industry. The demonstrators contribute to improve the general acceptance of sandwich composite solutions in both industries.
The significant weight saving effect of sandwich composite constructions in comparison to conventional steel design is most important especially in the maritime industry. It can act as alternative design approach to solve issues with respect to ship stability and deadweight typical for certain ship types such as cruise ships, yachts and ferries. Additionally, it will improve the environmental footprint and the overall efficiency of most types of ships by utilizing the lower lightship weight for an increase of the payload and / or saving of fuel by hydrodynamic optimisation.

The results of LCA show that NCC foam products can potentially offer environmental benefits in the future when the production process is up-scaled with process energy optimisation. It is a good candidate material to replace steel and mineral wool in maritime applications because of the potential weight saving offered by the novel material.
For the future R&D it is recommended
• To use green and efficient energy for process energy,
• To increase material efficiency of utilities, e.g. to further increase the solvent recovery rate,
• To further reduce the density of the material (additional weight saving benefit) and to reduce the environmental impact of the resin.

The pilot scale process for producing NCC foam, which can be used further on to make other NCC foam products, demonstrated the feasibility to develop an industrial scale production of NCC foam by using plant-based biomass. Since the resin currently used to reinforce the NCC foam is not bio-based and the process technology is at the pilot scale, it is still hard for the resulting NCC foam products to compete with conventional fossil fuel-based products in the bathroom floor application.

The developed life cycle cost models are a valuable framework to evaluate the profitability of potential NNC-Foam products applications in the software-tool BAL.LCPA. On the one hand, the life cycle cost models give clear indication about a viable market price and the associated production cost target for further optimisation of the production process. On the other hand, the life cycle cost model can be utilised for marketing purposes in order to convince potential customers of NCC-FOAM´s value proposition. As a result, the life cycle cost models supports and fosters the development towards the potential market penetration of NCC-Foam products.
The market analysis will guide the development of potential NCC-Foam products towards attractive markets to establish sustainable new enterprises and thereby create new jobs inside the Europe Union.

The results of the risk assessment in combination with the exploitation plan will rise awareness of the potential obstacles and recommend measures to mitigate the risk in order to ensure the project partners will achieve the key exploitable results of the NCC-Foam project.

The most promising markets in terms of production volume, number of enterprises and employment effects were identified.

The needs of the market
The market needs were assessed and demand for products from renewables in both our target areas were confirmed.

The way forward
• At the moment we are ready to offer to the market a foam from renewables for half the price of the PET foam, so we are in a good position
• Further improvements on the foam production process (energy and thus costs, continuous vs batch) will continue beyond the project
• Focus on the maritime and building/construction market
• Need to certify the materials for use in these markets
• We are looking for investors for the larger scale production line

The website, along with a strong visual identity, was created within Month 1, and has seen a steadily increasing number of visitors. Over the duration of the project (1st October 2013 – 30th September 2016) the website has received over 12,000 pageviews from nearly 4,000 individual users. The average length of a visit (avg. session duration) was 1 mins 39 seconds and the bounce rate was 71%.

Visitors to the site were truly global with the majority from Europe, North and South America and Asia. Specifically, most visitors were from Russia, United Kingdom, United States, Brazil, Sweden, Germany, India, Israel and Italy.

Towards the end of the project, NCC-Foam had an exhibition stand at SMM,the world’s leading maritime trade fair, in September 2016, Hamburg. A full-scale demonstrator of ship cabin manufactured from NCC-foam panels was on display.

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