Sustainable carbon fibres put Europe on the map

Carbon fibres are used in various applications: from lightweight bicycles to the blades of wind turbines. Carbon fibres are used when low weight is combined with high strength. A new production method with innovative fibres based on recycled plastics should put Europe on the map as a cleantech player.

The European NEWSPEC project, a consortium of companies and research institutions of which VITO is one, aims for a green revolution in the production of carbon fibres. Between 2013 and 2017 the partners want to release an innovative carbon fibre, manufactured from polyethylene (an oft-used and cheap plastic). Currently, the United States and Japan are world leaders on the carbon fibre market. Europe wants to position itself against them using environmentally friendly and cheaper carbon fibres, which can be used in the car industry, but also for sporting goods such as bikes, skiing materials or helmets. The NEWSPEC partners will study every step in the production process and apply innovative technologies that will reduce the impact on the environment and energy consumption of carbon fibre production. 
 

VITO's role in the project

VITO has a lot of expertise in atmospheric plasma technology. A specialised research group currently studies on a pilot scale how atmospheric plasma technology could offer an alternative means of optimising the finish of the fibre surface and contribute to the sustainable production of carbon fibres in the future.

NEWSPEC: facts & figures
  • Project within the European Seventh Framework Programme with 13 partners in seven countries
  • Duration: November 2013 - November 2017
  • Budget: €10,045,000, of which the European Commission is contributing €7,394,000.
     
Europe wants to position itself against them using environmentally friendly and cheaper carbon fibres, which can be used in the car industry, but also for sporting goods such as bikes, skiing materials or helmets.