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This project, funded by Gebert Rüf Stiftung, is supported by the following project partners: FHNW - The University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland; KATZ - Plastic Training and Technology Center; Decision SA; Tissa Glasweberei; EPFL Enable Grants; Venture Kick; EPFL Innogrant.
Project no: GRS-041/19
Amount of funding: CHF 150'000
Duration: 09.2019 - 08.2020
Area of activity: InnoBooster, seit 2018
Dr. Amaël Cohades
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
EPFL STI IMX LPAC
1015 Lausanne (Schweiz)
- amael.cohades@epfl. ch
Composite materials (made of carbon, glass or natural fibres embedded in a resin to create a strong and lightweight material) are widely used in aerospace, automotive, windmill, marine and sport industries. The global composites market is of 83 Bn$ and grew by 40% since 2014. However, a main limitation of composites is their sensitivity to damage; early cracking of the resin often takes place, leading to a risk of failure. Users can then either repair or replace the part. Both choices imply high costs and a negative footprint. With CompPair, we develop the next generation of smart and sustainable material products to overcome this drawback. The new materials enable: repeated damage healing after a moderate heat trigger; usage as resistant and lightweight material; compatibility with current manufacturing processes; easier recycling at the end-of-life. Even though this technology can be applied to numerous industries to extend the life-time of composite structures, we need first to focus on primary markets. Our entry to market is targeted in the marine and sport industries with a first product: smart prepregs (preimpregnated textiles) integrating our chemistry. Our smart prepregs form a high added value product designed for composite manufacturers. We already attracted the industry with our solution thanks to an initial Proof-of-concept, but we need now to optimize the industrialization. With the boost of the Gebert Rüf Stiftung, we will secure our first product implementation, ultimately securing our first customer in the targeted field by 2020; therefore accelerating our market entry and enabling disruption of the industry by making it more cost efficient and sustainable.
What is special about the project?
Up to now, the field of self-healing composites had been mostly restricted to laboratory-scale studies, with few uncompetitive attempts to scale-up. This lack of industrial implementation is found in their development roots, aiming for fully autonomous healing systems at room temperature, that reduce intrinsic composite properties. Our strategy, aiming at triggering healing by moderate heat, while preserving structural properties and conserving a good initial damage tolerance was successful and novel. Our technology is the first competitive one with extremely high commercial potential in terms of multiple repair ability and recycling, while preserving mechanical properties, cost and processing methods as in many industrial systems. By extending our product portfolio to other fibres and resins, we have the ability to disrupt the industry; bringing repair and recycling functionalities to composites while matching current requirements.
We have demonstrated healing properties on a lab scale and at a larger scale through demonstrators of real part applications (a typical aerospace part, a skateboard, a surfboard, and a boat part). The healing process is activated at moderate temperature with a blow dryer and lasts only one minute. Videos showing impact and successive healing can be accessed on CompPair website
. However, technical challenges remain before being able to scale-up and commercialize our products. We are now focusing on the product industrialization and acquisition of first pilot tests to demonstrate our product durability and repair ability in service conditions.
N. Hostettler; A. Cohades; V. Michaud; Healable composites and their performance through mechanical and durability testing; JEC Magazine; Mai 2019
Persons involved in the project
Last update to this project presentation 03.12.2019