FLOWER project continues to make progress!
The FLOWER project, led by the University of South Brittany, and co-funded by the Interreg France Channel England programme has achieved major steps in the last weeks.
European authorities have decided to extend the project for 9 more months, based on the success of the first part of the project. Partners have managed to achieve all the project goals in time, showing their competency in the biobased composites sector. The 3 planned demonstrators have been produced: POP panels for the advertising sector, a foiling boat for the sailing sector and a car headliner for the automotive sector.
New prototypes will be designed in this extension. Howa-Tramico and Kairos will create new versions of the headliner and of the advertising panels, based on their previous works they will improve the first demonstrators.
Partners will start working in two new sectors, the transport and the energy ones.
Regarding the transport, discussions emerging from FLOWER 4th conference with Chereau Group have led to a common interest to develop flax-reinforced lateral panels for refrigerated trucks. This collaboration will improve the environmental impact: flax is cultivated in Normandy, and panels are also produced in this region.
When it comes to the energy sector, the University of Cambridge will work on the development of a wind turbine reinforced with flax. A prototype will be designed and produced and characterisation tests will be made to prove that this product is resilient to outdoor conditions.
A new scientific topic will be addressed, the modelling of the behaviour of flax reinforcements, led by Depestele, with the help of INRAE and UOC.
Thanks to this opportunity, partners will keep working together until June 2023!
Launching of the boat
Following the great news of learning the extension, partners have gathered as planned in Concarneau on April 21st-22nd and were welcomed by Kaïros, one of the project partners.
Kaïros, an engineering office focusing on sailing, was in charge in the project of producing the first flax foiling boat. These types of boat have the particularity to fly on the water, using two wings, one on each side of the boat, and the wind energy to move on the sea. To create this boat, Kaïros started working with an existing foiling sailboat from which they replaced the glass and carbon fibres by flax fibres.
The challenge was to show that natural fibres, less impacting for the environment, can also be used in the making of a foil sailboat. With the partners collaboration for mechanical and vibration tests, Kaïros has managed to produce an environmentally friendly boat.
During the meeting in Concarneau, FLOWER partners were happy to discover the boat. Kaïros has already tested the boat in the sea and proved that it can indeed fly. The boat will be tested in real conditions of use during the summer at the Glénans sailing centre.
Each year, the JEC Composites Innovation Awards celebrate successful projects and cooperation between players in the composites industry. These awards, eagerly awaited by professionals in composite materials, distinguished the company Kaïros, partner of the Flower project, in the Design, Furniture & Home.
The company was awarded the prize for Kairlin®: a recyclable and compostable biomaterial, which makes it possible to produce and recycle point-of-sale displays and signage, with a low environmental impact, in line with the circular economy approach
This material is at the heart of the Flower project. It is a composite panel reinforced with Poly-(lactid) or PLA and flax, developed in monolithic and sandwich structures which has the advantage of being light and easy to machine. At every stage of its life cycle, from flax cultivation to end of life, Kairlin® has been designed and validated on an industrial scale to have a high degree of sustainability in its composition and process. It was designed in collaboration with EcoTechnilin, UBS and the University of Portsmouth.
Howa-Tramico, another FLOWER partner was also selected as finalist in the Automotive & Road Transportation – Surfaces category, for the headliner it produced in FLOWER. This new automotive headliner has an improved environmental assessment thanks to the use of plant fibre reinforcement instead of petro-based ones.
In the competition, this headliner did not win the prize but the recognition as finalist gave Howa-Tramico the chance to have a dedicated poster at JEC World 2022, along with Kairos.
The award ceremony was held in April to nominate the winners and pictures were taken on stage at JEC World 2022 with all finalists.
For each demonstrator, a presentation video was prepared and is available here:
JEC World 2022
To continue with these successes, FLOWER team booked a booth at JEC World 2022.
JEC World is known as the global event for composites, where 1 300 exhibitors choose to show their products and more than 40 000 visitors each year attend the event.
Industrial partners showed their prototypes and academic partners displayed posters of the project thesis results. Kairos designed the booth with different ranges of Kairlin® plates on the walls and provided with Point of Purchase supports resulting from the project.
The flax-PLA reinforcement developed by Ecotechnilin to manufacture the Kairlin was placed next to it to show the collaborative work of the companies. Other reinforcements from EcoTechnilin were displayed, and Howa-Tramico headliner was hung as a demonstrator.
The event was a large success for FLOWER with hundreds of people visiting the booth, eager to learn more about the possibilities of using flax in composites. The booth was located on the Natural Fibres Village, a space dedicated to structures that promote the use of vegetal resources. FLOWER fit perfectly in this space and partners had the opportunity to discover what similar structures are doing in different fields or with other resources, such as hemp.
This event was an efficient way of communicating on the project, 5 representatives of the partners were continuously present on the booth throughout the three days while others went disseminating on other booths to look for future prospects.
FLOWER partners are now working on the extension developments and will meet again in September 2022 at the University of Cambridge.
Amazing achievements. These initiatives will certainly help in contributing towards achieving sustainability and net-zero aspirations.