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EU Forest Project Targets Sustainable Vehicle Lightweighting

Article-EU Forest Project Targets Sustainable Vehicle Lightweighting

Thomas Jackson/Stone via Getty Images green cars driving in arrow formation
Spanish plastics technology center Aimplas is coordinating efforts with 13 fellow European partners to develop out-of-autoclave processes to mold bio-composites.

Spain-based research organization Aimplas is coordinating a new research initiative funded by the European Union (EU) dubbed the Forest project, which will delve into advanced lightweight bio-based and recycled materials to facilitate the decarbonization of the transportation sector. The project’s consortium consists of 13 partners in addition to Aimplas from eight different countries developing innovative bio-based polymers, additives, and recycled carbon fibers for sustainable, safe transport applications.

The Forest project will run until May 2026 and is aligned with the EU 2030 Climate and Energy challenges. Forest aims to reduce the structural weight of vehicles by providing sustainable lightweight components made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic.

Efforts will focus on the development of novel lightweight multifunctional bio-composites as a competitive alternative to conventional composites. These bio-composite candidates will be obtained using one-shot manufacturing techniques, involving out-of-autoclave processes to build and test prototypes with improved multifunctional properties — mechanical resistance, fire retardance, EMI shielding, and so forth — for transportation applications.

In addition, new chemistries based on high bio-based content for polymers and additives will be developed in order to reduce dependency on fossil sources.

The Forest project is also focusing on efficient methods to recover carbon-fiber waste and develop high-quality semi-finished materials for valuable transport applications.

And finally, the consortium will research the influence of the multifunctional properties on the bio-composite materials. Thus, the project will combine bio-based approaches, recycling, and multifunctionality to obtain sustainable solutions for the bus, aeronautic, and automotive sectors. The project is committed to developing effective circularity solutions based on multifunctional bio-composite constituents with more than 50% sustainable materials contained in lightweight products.

Forest is funded by the EU’s Horizon Europe research and innovation program. The collaborative partners from Spain, France, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, and England are Aimplas, Arkema, BASF, Clariant, Fraunhofer, IRT Jules Verne, MBHA, Mercedes Benz, Airbus Atlantic Composites, CRF, Angaz Tech, Fenix TNT, Bitrez, and Gen2 Carbon.

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