BIO-UPTAKE and SURE2COAT, aligned with the circular economy and smart manufacturing
The European Union aims to keep the continent’s industrial production at the forefront of the world (in 2019 the European manufacturing sector employed 30 million people and represented 22% of the global workforce), differentiating itself from the competition thanks to its commitment to move towards more advanced (digital) and sustainable manufacturing, adapted to the challenges posed by climate change. The transformation towards a carbon neutral economy is a major challenge for the entire industry, which must remain competitive while adapting to the circular economy. In this line, CIDETEC Surface Engineering participates in the BIO-UPTAKE and SURE2COAT projects, both funded within the framework of the initiatives arising from the “Made in Europe” Public-Private Partnership, which brings together companies, research centres, universities, social actors and manufacturing companies.
BIO-UPTAKE – BIOcomposites in smart plastic transformation processes to pave the way for the large-scale UPTAKE of sustainable bio-based products – aims to increase the use of bioplastic composites in the European manufacturing industry by 39%, through the use of digital twins enabling green transformation. Flexible manufacturing processes will be developed to produce bio-based plastics for the construction, medical and packaging sectors, based on the combination of bio-based synthetic fibres reinforced with biopolymers, which are easily adaptable to new market demands. Sustainability criteria will be applied from the design phase, obtaining products with more than 75% bio-based content and reducing greenhouse gases by 33%. CIDETEC Surface Engineering will contribute to this project with its patented 3R thermosetting resin system, in its bio-based variant, in collaboration with the French company SPECIFIC POLYMERS. The use of this resin in the manufacture of components made of thermosetting composite materials allows the development of Reprocessable, Intrinsically Recyclable and Repairable composites (that is why the technology is known as “3R”). CIDETEC Surface Engineering will also produce what we have named “enduring prepregs”, which are cured, or partially cured, non-perishable prepregs that have the advantage that they can be stored at room temperature. The chemistry of the material will be adjusted to optimise both processing on pre-preg lines and subsequent thermoforming. The project is coordinated by the Spanish research centre Fundación AITIIP and involves 13 partners from 6 EU countries.
The SURE2COAT project – Sustainable surface treatments of complex shape components for transsectorial industrial innovation – aims to increase the use of aluminium by developing innovative surface treatments and production technologies. Aluminium is prone to corrosion in harsh environments, a barrier that is to be overcome in order to be used in applications such as electric motors, thermal systems and energy storage units, where greater use of lightweight materials such as aluminium is essential to make systems more energy efficient. In addition, the aim is to reduce the carbon footprint thanks to more efficient production processes and designs that allow for greater energy efficiency.
In this project, CIDETEC Surface Engineering will develop the electrophoretic e-coating process to produce a coating (anaphoretic e-coating) to protect aluminium housings from corrosion, which in the future will be used in electric motors used in processing facilities in the food industry, currently made of steel. With the change of material, as well as the manufacturing technologies to be used and their integration, up to 50% savings in energy consumption during use are expected to be achieved. The coating will also have to withstand the aggressive steam cleaning processes used in the food industry. The coating chemistry has been chosen to be REACH compliant and the application process to be used is designed not to cause significant direct or indirect environmental damage. The project, led by the Norwegian research centre SINTEF Industry, also considers the integration of the technology into existing production lines. In addition to SINTEF and CIDETEC, 10 other partners from 7 European countries are involved.
Both projects are framed within the Horizon Europe programme in the calls HORIZON-CL4-2021-TWIN-TRANSITION-01-05 (BIO-UPTAKE) and HORIZON-CL4-2022-TWIN-TRANSITION-01-02 (SURE2COAT) and are funded by the European Commission. Between them, the total budget and grant support for CIDETEC amounts to €1,019,062.
With the participation in these two projects CIDETEC Surface Engineering shows its commitment to the development of sustainable materials that contribute to make the European manufacturing industry more competitive and sustainable, as well as to make Europe an area of (more) sustainable products and services and more circular industries.