The FLOWER Project
FLOWER (Flax composites, LOW weight, End of life and Recycling) aims to develop novel, low-cost, light-weight, non-woven and woven flax fibre reinforcements for the local composites industry. Biodegradable and bio-based thermoplastics will also be explored to ensure end-of-life sustainability.
The project aims to develop natural fibre composites that are cost-effective, environmentally-friendly, light-weight and viable alternatives to glass fibre composites for the automotive, marine, and point-of-sales advertising sectors.
The use of composites is widespread in industry: they account for about 20% of the mass of an automobile and almost all that of pleasure boats, which are currently made of glass fibres and a non-recyclable resin.
As part of of the project, we will produce structural components of a flying boat (hydrofoil), which will make its maiden journey across the English Channel, automotive roof panels, and point-of-sales advertising display boards which will be made with the newly developed flax composite material technologies.
The FLOWER project was selected under the European cross-border cooperation programme Interreg France (Channel) England and is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
The products developed as part of the FLOWER project aim to:
- Reduce environmental impact due to the lightweight nature of the biodegradable and/or recyclable composites, which will be manufactured locally
- Fully replace glass fibre composites in ships and auto parts
- Promote the adoption of suitable biocomposite products in industry
The proposal aims to respond to real industrial demand by developing two main types of semi-finished products:
- Non-woven reinforcements with a low grammage (50 gsm versus 200 gsm currently) or with recyclable polymers
- Long fibre reinforcements for structural applications
FLOWER is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) within the framework of the INTERREG France (Manche) England cross-border cooperation program. FLOWER has a total budget of €4.6M (including €3.1M European Union (ERDF – Interreg FCE) co-financing) and will run for 56 months, up to September 2022.
- The Centre for Natural Material Innovation (CNMI) at the University of Cambridge
- The Advanced Materials & Manufacturing (AMM) Research Group at the University of Portsmouth
- The Dupuy de Lôme Research Institute (IRDL) at the University of South Brittany
- The Biopolymers Interactions Assemblies Unit at the French National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA)
- Teillage Vandecandelaère (part of the Depestele group)
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In response to the ever-worsening condition of our planet, our materials engineering research is helping make manufacturing more sustainable, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly.