Numobio project speeds up the development of biocomposite applications by digitalising the design process

Numobio project speeds up the development of biocomposite applications by digitalising the design process

Projects News 28.12.2021

The goal of the 2-year Numobio project (Advanced NUmerical MOdelling for rapid development of BIOcomposite applications) running within the ExpandFibre Ecosystem is to take a significant leap to digitalise biocomposite design for rapid and inexpensive development of new materials and products for a wide range of industry sectors. In addition, the other development area is to develop single fibre testing with microrobotics. The project activities drive innovation that will establish Finnish leadership in the quickly growing high-value biocomposite markets, opening exciting opportunities for exports.

To meet the requirements of global carbon neutrality, resource scarcity and a functional circular economy, biocomposites have been promoted as one of our most promising solutions to replace oil-based plastics. The demand for natural fibre-based composites is very high with annual growth being 30% in the last four years in Europe alone. The global biocomposites market size is projected to reach over 45 billion USD by 2025.

Biocomposites provide an attractive balance between low-cost, high performance, low carbon and environmental footprint for construction, automotive and transportation industries as well as for electronics and consumer durables. As a novel material, several relevant challenges still need to be solved. Such challenges are related to fibre orientation, agglomeration and the interfacial (adhesion) strength.

Numobio project will take a crucially important development step to bring biocomposite material design to a digital age. In this R&D area of the project, VTT and the other project partners co-develop ProperTune material modeling tool set according to real life needs of company use cases and create multiscale modeling chain from molecular and microscale level to component and system-level analysis to link material structure to product properties. The use of advanced numerical technologies will speed up the discovery of new functional materials compared to the traditional, experimental approach. In the second R&D area, Tampere University joins forces with other project partners to develop single fibre testing using microrobotics, with an aim to have a deeper understanding of the fibre properties.

Developing a digital process for material design and single fibre testing with microrobotics

In the Numobio project, the partners aim to develop entirely new structure-based material models capable to predict properties and performance with an unprecedented accuracy. In addition, novel material characterization methods are being developed, such as X-ray microtomography analysis, composite testing methods, single fibre testing and micromechanic testing of fiber-matrix bonding.

Research Team Leader Marko Mäkipää from VTT concludes: “I am glad to see the Numobio project bring together actors from the entire value chain of the biocomposite R&D, and as an eventual result of our work, I hope to see an increase in the portion of Finnish biocomposite industry in the European Union’s plastics industry.”

Project partners:

Teknologian tutkimuskeskus VTT Oy, Tampere University, Metsä Fibre Oy, Huawei Technologies Oy (Finland) Co Ltd, Primo Oy, Parlok Oy, Profcomp Oy, Block Solutions Oy, Nature Line Cutlery Oy, Konto Oy, Elastopoli Oy, Muoviteollisuus ry