An innovative environmentally friendly gelcoating technology for composites for marine and wind-turbine applications to reduce VOC emissions, processing time and cost.
InGeCt is a €1.4M project funded by the Framework Programme 7 (FP7) initiative to encourage Research for Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SME). The main aim is to develop an innovative environmentally friendly gelcoating technology for composites for marine and wind-turbine applications to reduce VOC emissions, processing time and cost.
Gel coats are applied to fibre-reinforced composite materials for aesthetic or protection purposes. Styrene is an essential part of these gelcoats, with ~25% of this released during possessing. These styrene emissions cause irritation and neurological effects as well as possibly being carcinogen. One of the biggest negative effects of styrene is the perceived odour both by the workforce and neighbourhoods. As a result styrene emissions are limited under the Solvent Emissions Directive. Although the adoption of closed mould technologies for the production of composite parts have gone a long way to reducing styrene emissions during manufacture, gelcoating must still be undertaken under open-mould conditions as no viable in-mould gelcoating technology is commercially available. We are developing an innovative in-mould gel-coating process, requiring minimal equipment modification (and therefore low capital expenditure) based on the innovative application of low-viscocity gelcoats and a spacer fabric. The proof-of-concept work undertaken to date has this technology has the potential to achieve significant benefits beyond the current state of the art to produce parts that are fit for purpose whilst reducing styrene emissions to <5ppm.
The overall aim of the InGeCt project is to develop technical textiles and gel-coat formulations in combination with process design and optimisation that will enable significant reductions in VOC emissions whilst reducing production times by 18.5% and manufacturing cost by 10.5%. Our technology will therefore be very attractive to composites processors, giving significant economic and societal benefits to consumers and manufacturers. The SME consortium target a significant penetration of the EU market within a 5 year period, achieving direct annual sales of over 100 million. The technology will make a significant contribution to reducing VOC emissions, enabling EU SMEs to meet their immediate and forthcoming legislative requirements.