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Aligned Natural Fibres and Textiles for Use in Structural Composite Applications (NATEX)
Start date: 01 Nov 2008, End date: 30 Apr 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Biocomposites manufactured from natural materials such as fibres and bioderived polymers offer a sustainable alternative to traditional ones, but at present they are not available for use in structural applications. NATEX will develop aligned textiles from natural fibres suitable for use as high strength reinforcing fabrics to produce structural composite parts using bio and oil based thermoplastic and thermoset resins. This will include the use of orientated woven natural fibres in bioderived thermoplastics and thermosets, to produce high-tech products with high added value from entirely renewable resources. The main innovations will be: • New chemical/enzymatic treatments to tailor the fibre surface chemistry and to modify its cell wall polymers, to obtain the desired interface properties when combined with the polymer matrix •New chemical/natural treatments for the yarn during the wrapping process, new method for low twist yarns production, film stacking and commingling development for natural fibres, to increase the mechanical properties of the yarns •Development of new weaving techniques to improve impregnation and to obtain innovative 3D textiles •Resin viscosity control using thermal conductive additives, increasing their compatibility with natural fibres by using coupling agents and surfactant additives Besides, a large range of resin processing methods will be adapted to suit them to the characteristics of the modified fibres: Vacuum Bagging, Vacuum Consolidation, Compression Moulding, Continuous Compression Moulding, Infusion and Resin Transfer Moulding. Basic research on joining technologies as hot welding over natural fibre composites will be also performed. As result, aligned natural fibres with improved properties will be combined with thermoplastics and thermosets, increasing the mechanical properties of biocomposites and introducing them in structural applications in different sectors: transport, energy, agricultural machinery and shipbuilding
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