01 March 2019 - 31 August 2022 (now extended to 28 February 2023)
With the ever increasing world production and consumption of plastic materials and composites comes a growing concern with both the waste treatment and greenhouse emission during production of these predominantly oil-based materials. Especially the long-term ecological impact of plastic litter and microplastics in the marine environment is a growing issue that has gained considerable momentum in public perception and global media. Bio-based polymers, or polymers from renewable resources, can prove a viable substitute to conventional oil-based polymers for many applications with significantly reduced greenhouse emission and potential biodegradability.
The current trend in the field of polymer composites, or plastic material that are reinforced with e.g. glass or carbon fibre, is to find bio-composite alternatives for both the matrix polymeric plastic and fibre reinforcement. These materials will cater to the current demands in several fields including the maritime industry for substitute materials to replace conventional petrol-based composites in e.g. fish and seaweed farming, energy harvesting, boats, pontoons, anchoring and buoy elements. The bio-composites will not only reduce the depletion of fossil-based resources but should also limit the emission of greenhouse gases and ecotoxic impact of microplastics, while allowing recycling through the use of thermoplastic bio-polymers. At the same time, these materials should meet the highest technical performance standards and withstand harsh sea conditions, including mechanical forces, aggressive environment, and intense UV light.