Tue, 04 August, 2020
The H2020 funded EIROS Project, in which TWI was a partner and the co-ordinator, has been highlighted by the European Commission’s Innovation Radar, which identifies potential innovations and the key innovators behind them in EU-funded Research and Innovation projects.
The aim of the EIROS Project was to develop a range of nano-enabled composite materials. Nano-particles were incorporated into conventional fibre reinforced composite resins to add functionality to components in extreme environments for a range of industry applications.
TWI’s Senior Project Leader for Functional Coatings and Resins, Anna Wojdyla-Cieslak took some time to explain more about the project and the outcomes of the innovative work.
Could you start by explaining the aims of the project and what it delivers for industry?
In the wind power generation, automotive and aerospace sectors there is an emerging need to operate in low temperature and highly erosive conditions. These conditions are very challenging for conventional composite materials and can either preclude their use or require very high levels of maintenance increasing costs. The aim of the EIROS project was to develop self-renewing, erosion resistant and anti-icing additives for composite structures targeted for different industrial applications: wind turbine blades, aircraft leading edges, cryogenic tanks and automotive fascia. The addition of multi-functional additives to the bulk of fibre-reinforced composites will allow the achievement of the required attributes and thus, it will decrease the cost of operational maintenance.
What are the benefits of using nanocomposites?
A nanocomposite is one where one or more of components has nano-sized dimensions (below 100nm). The addition of inorganic or organic components at the nano-scale level gives the ability to create completely new properties at the macroscopic level. Furthermore, the property of an individual component of nanomaterial can be tailored by adding another component or multiple components of the nanomaterials, which means that multi-functions can be introduced to the nanocomposite. Ice and erosion resistance were the primary functionalities to be introduced in EIROS nanocomposites.
What was TWI’s role in the project and what were the challenges involved?
In addition to the role of Project Coordinator, TWI was leading the development of multi-functional silica nanoparticles that were incorporated into the resin. These silica structures can be dual-functionalized with a hydrophobic group that lowers the surface energy of the resin (enhancing the resistance towards water and thus, ice accretion) and another functional group that enables cross-linking with the matrix (enhancing the robustness). In addition, this unique technology developed by TWI allows for high loading levels of nanoparticles into the resin without changing its viscosity.
Are these nanocomposites ready to go to market, and how does it compare to other products?
The project was aimed at establishing the feasibility of the technology and to start to put together the supply chain. These aims were successfully achieved in the project and, whilst these nanocomposites are not yet market ready, TWI and the EIROS project partners are now well positioned to provide guidelines for the design of these nanocomposites for a range of applications, and to provide support for their manufacture and ultimately, their qualification.
This EIROS project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 685842