Research in composites: Atlantic France at the forefront of innovation!

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Atlantic France is a major hub for research in composite materials. IRT Jules Verne, Cetim and Airbus have recently announced the launch of some new pioneering projects, and many Atlantic France players have staff based in the Composites Technocampus located near Nantes. 

For the first time, the technological research institute Jules Verne has become a coordinator of an EU-funded project: SUSPENS. Its objective is to develop sandwich and hollow composite parts for the automotive, naval and aeronautical markets. These composite parts will use up to 95% of biosourced thermosetting resins, combined with sustainable fibres (natural cellulose, lignin-based and recycled carbon fibres), in order to drastically reduce CO2 emissions. 

The SUSPENS project brings together 13 European partners, including the EMC2 competitiveness cluster, which is also based in Atlantic France, the Forvia Faurecia group and the Université Côte d’Azur (France), the Centexbel (Scientific & technical centre of the Belgian textile industry), the Economic and social research institute IRES and Orineo (Belgium), Anthony Patrick & Murta-Exportação (Portugal), Reciclalia (Spain), the University of Aalto (Finland), the Technological University of Athens and Megara Resin Industry (Greece), and WH LIPEX (Germany).

Also specialised in the manufacturing of composite sandwich panels, the company Satys Interiors Railway is growing steadily thanks to its innovative products. The factory located in Boufféré (Vendée), which has been recently equipped with a new press, produces floors, tables and wall partitions for trains.

Tanks for hydrogen-powered vehicles

Cetim has launched an ambitious programme named Hydrogen Material and Equipment Engineering and Testing Centre (HyMEET). An example of what the industrial technical centre is doing is leading a European research project called THOR, in collaboration with Faurecia, Air Liquide, Rina-CSM, Sirris, NTNU and CNRS Prime. This project focuses on the production of tanks for hydrogen vehicles which are made of recyclable thermoplastic composites. 15 prototypes have been manufactured within the Composites Technocampus (see below).

Airbus, a key partner of the HyMEET project, set up  one of its Zero Emission Development Centres in Nantes and recently revealed its first cryogenic tanks which are designed for hydrogen-powered aircrafts. The aeronautics leader believes that the use of composite materials will allow these tanks to be lighter and more cost-efficient.

The Composites Technocampus, a leading research centre

Inaugurated in September 2009, the Composites Technocampus is the first joint research platform created by the Atlantic France region. Dedicated to the implementation of high-performance composite materials, it is a leading centre in France for the development of these innovative technologies. From research to pre-industrialisation, the Composites Technocampus offers a range of expertise that can be mobilised to meet the specific needs of different industrial sectors.

Located in Bouguenais, near Nantes, the Composites Technocampus is a 19,000 sqm site (which includes more than 16,000 sqm of laboratories and technical areas) spread over 7 separate buildings. It brings together academic and industrial research teams, as well as various private service providers; all of whom are working on the development of innovative technologies that are dedicated to the processes for implementing composite materials. This 360° approach to projects gives this unique infrastructure a world-class level of expertise!

Today, some twenty players are hosted on this unique platform and 300 people work there on a daily basis. From Airbus (a historic partner and the largest tenant on the site) to the Cetim technological institute, Centrale Nantes and EMC2 (the European centre for manufacturing technologies), the Composites Technocampus brings together a wide range of skills.

A few months ago, teams at the Airbus Atlantic Technocentre, located at the Composites Technocampus, created the first liquid hydrogen tank for aircraft. A historic innovation!

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