Research focuses on marine biocomposites

An EU group has developed a range of flax reinforced bio composites which it says perform as well as traditional composites for marine applications.

The three-year SeaBioComp project, which includes partners such as EuraMaterials and the University of Portsmouth has led to the development of a self-reinforced polylactic acid (PLA) composite which has been made into a variety of non-woven and woven fabrics suitable for use in compression molding, and a flax reinforced PLA or polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) reinforced composite for use in resin infusion under flexible tooling (RIFT), compression molding and AM.

According to the group, testing of the mechanical properties of the various bio-composites concluded that they are close to and in some instances perform better than conventional non-bio-based composites currently in use in the marine environment today, such as sheet molded composite (SMC). The biomaterials use the same compression molding conditions as conventional products and sometimes the process cycle time can be shorter, the SeaBioComp partners reported.

A number of initial prototype products, including a fender and other port structures have successfully been produced using 3D printing, while scale model offshore wind turbine blades have reportedly been made using monomer infusion under flexible tooling (MIFT) and complex curved structures have been creation with compression molding techniques.