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Expleo introduces its bamboo fibres biosourced composites for aeronautics and space

News International-French

8 Aug 2019

Expleo, Arkema, Cobratex, Specific Polymers, Cirimat, Compositadour, Lisa Aeronautics, and Mécano ID teamed up last November to develop new technical biosourced composites using long bamboo fibres. This innovation, called Bamco (BAmboo long-fibre-reinforced biobased Matrix COmposites), could eventually help to reduce the environmental footprint of aircraft, with benefits that could extend beyond the aerospace sector.

Expleo introduces its bamboo fibres biosourced composites for aeronautics and space

Expleo introduces its bamboo fibres biosourced composites for aeronautics and space

Minimizing environmental impact is a growing concern in industry. In the aerospace sector, research is turning towards the design of new materials. Certain polymer composites, like the glass/phenolic ones currently in use, will soon be impacted by the European REACH regulation, so there is an urgent need to develop alternative solutions that are just as effective.

Bamboo/TP biocomposite
For the past four years, Expleo and the intercollegiate centre for materials research and engineering Cirimat have been collaborating on the concept of a biocomposite with a biosourced thermoplastic matrix reinforced with continuous  bamboo fibres.
The concept has been validated in the laboratory, and now needs to be validated at the industrial scale.
The FUI Bamco project addresses this challenge by proposing new biocomposites created using long bamboo fibres. While solutions based on flax or hemp fibres already exist, these bamboo-fibre-reinforced biocomposites are completely new. They would be an improvement as a replacement for glass/phenolic composites, due to their very low weight (less weight means lower fuel consumption), thermal resistance, and mechanical properties (strength, impact and vibration damping). Bamboo cultivation also addresses the environmental imperative very effectively, due to the rapid growth of the plant, which needs only low water consumption, minimum land use, and no fertilizers or pesticides.

Aerospace, marine and sports
Bamco biocomposites could be used in the aerospace industry for cabin furnishings and in cover panels and fuselage cladding panels, or in panels for the galleys where flight attendants prepare and store in-flight meals. They could also be used to make finished components for the yachting and leisure sports markets.
The Bamco project is quality certified by the Aerospace Valley competitive cluster and validated by the DG Enterprise and Industry under FUI 24 (the financing of competitive cluster projects through interministerial funds). It also has the support of the French Occitania-Pyrenees-Mediterranean and Normandy regions, and of the Bpifrance public investment bank. A consortium of eight stakeholders, companies and research laboratories provides expertise.

Project stakeholders
The Bamco project is sponsored by Expleo, a leading group in engineering, quality and digital solutions, and initiator of the innovation. Expleo is contributing its expertise in material engineering and aeronautics towards the design of the prototype parts. It also oversees this large-scale, high-potential industrial project. Arkema and Specific Polymers are in charge of formulating and processing the biosourced polymers used for the composite matrices.
Cobratex is studying and will propose a number of different bamboo species, some of which are grown in France. To meet all the processing constraints linked to the different composite matrices and processes, Cobratex will work to optimize its own converting process and its own innovative reinforcement.

The company is also in charge of scaling up the process for the technical reinforcements and semi-finished products that Cirimat develops directly. The research laboratories are working with the biocomposites – Cirimat at the laboratory scale, and Compositadour at the industrial scale. Cirimat is focusing on the design and laboratory-scale production of the composites, which consist of a thermoplastic or thermoset matrix reinforced with continuous bamboo fibres.
Mécano ID is performing the vibration damping tests and modelling the behaviour of the biocomposites. The aircraft manufacturer Lisa Aeronautics is participating in the development of a prototype part for its future airplanes. The Bamco project is now in the operational phase and the development work is in progress. The first prototype parts are scheduled for 2021.

This article is issued from the JCM N°128 May - June 2019.
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