Advanced lightweight materials – A European Commission perspective

Dr George Kotsikos, Project Officer – European Commission – Health and Digital Executive Agency joined the stage of JEC World 2023 to share an overview of what the European Commission can provide to help the industry tackle some of its biggest challenges ahead.

Advanced lightweight materials – A European Commission perspective

2 minutes, 20 secondes

Lightweighting of engineering structures has been a decades old engineering challenge for a multitude of applications and the benefits have been widely documented in the international literature. The European Commission has been consistently supporting research and development in advanced materials for lightweighting through its framework programs for at least the past 20 years. More recently, the drive for electrification of transport has increased the interest and demand for lightweight design solutions, which in turn requires the development of innovative new materials. The wider policy for reduction of CO2 emissions, energy efficiency and sustainability also give rise to the need for new solutions to enhance recyclability of novel lightweight materials, CRMs replacement/substitution, as well as development of energy efficient manufacturing techniques.

How are composites revolutionising the field of architecture and providing new material, construction, and structural opportunities for designers, builders?
Dr George Kotsikos: “Composite materials are increasingly visible in architecture and infrastructure applications. Architects, taking full advantage of composites’ properties, are now able to design and create buildings with large, bright and airy spaces, not easily achieved with traditional materials. Composite materials can be formed in a variety of complex shapes, offering versatility in design and can also have their properties tailored to the design needs, e.g. lightweight, sound or thermal insulation, UV resistance, fire resistance, etc., thus saving time as well as reducing component transport and installation costs.  Thirty years ago, few envisaged that cast iron manhole covers would be replaced by composite ones with the same performance characteristics but one third of the weight!”

Listen to Dr George Kotsikos’s testimony at JEC World 2023.

Keynote: Advanced Lightweight Materials – A European Commission Perspective

Discover more videos on JEC Composites Web TV.

According to your experience what are the main obstacles and levers for the composites development in the building sector?
Dr George Kotsikos: “Although the benefits of these materials in civil construction are well understood, there are indeed obstacles. One cannot say with precision which are the most important but those frequently sited include unfamiliarity with composite materials -giving rise to fears of litigation, conservative views in the industry, recycling, repair and cost.”

What are the future developments, in terms of materials, technologies, machines, which could help the building sector using the best of the composites?
Dr George Kotsikos: “Traditional construction materials have been around for millennia. In comparison therefore, polymer composites can be characterised as “newcomers”. However, in the span of 1960-1970 years we have made huge advances in the applications of polymer composites through innovation and R&D. Development of novel manufacturing technologies to reduce costs; use of additive manufacturing approaches; low cost reinforcements (particularly carbon fibre); development of bio-composites for sustainability and circularity are some of the areas where, in my opinion, future efforts are likely to concentrate.”

These are the author’s opinions and do not in any way reflect the position of the European Commission.

More information www.commission.europa.eu