ECOTRM, FlaxWrap and BleNaBis: These abbreviations show leading research by the Institut für Textiltechnik (ITA) of RWTH Aachen University. The projects concern themselves with environmentally-friendly alternatives for everyday materials. The researchers were able to convince the KlimaExpo.NRW of the projects which were recently incorporated into the nationwide exhibition about climate protection
Even though all of the projects conduct their research in different fields, they find common ground in terms of climate protection. The ECOTRM-project develops a climate-friendly alternative to reinforce concrete, whereas the research in the FlaxWrap-project concentrates on the production of 100 percent bio-based natural fibre reinforced plastics. The BleNaBis-project develops a climate-neutral carpet fibres. “All three projects display that energy-intensive materials can also be produced in an efficient way that keeps CO2- emissions to a minimum. Leading research has to be publicized – and this is exactly what we are doing by including the projects into the exhibition,” said Dr Heinrich Dornbusch, Director of the KlimaExpoNRW, during the awarding ceremony of the certificates to Dr Ing. Till Quadflieg, manager of the ECOTRM-project, and Dipl.-Ing. Marko Wischnowski, manager of the BleNaBis- and FlaxWrap-projects.
“In order to establish sustainability permanently, alternative materials that are simultaneously less expensive, more efficient and more ecological are needed,” add Dr Till Quadflieg and Marko Wischnowski from the ITA.
Constructing climate-friendly with ECOTRM
The production of cement which is one of the main constituents of reinforced concrete, causes more CO2-emissions than the entire air traffic. The eco-concrete, developed within the framework of the ECOTRM-project, dispenses with the use of cement. The researchers use a climate-friendly, alkaline-activated binder that consists of gypsum, fly ash and slag. Basalt fibres are used to replace the steel. Basalt is a volcanic rock and a re-growing resource that surpasses the material characteristics of steel concerning strength and weight. In a direct comparison, the eco-concrete reduces CO2 production by 80 percent.
Improved production processes for natural fibre composites
The FlaxWrap-project deals with natural fibre reinforced plastics that are ideal for the application in car manufacturing due to their good mechanical properties. They need less energy during production than carbon fibre reinforced plastics or glass fibre reinforced plastics. Up to now, there is a lack of efficient and production-oriented production processes. This is where the project follows up: The researchers use a 100 percent re-growing resource, based on a polyamide fibre, consisting of castor oil for the matrix and a flax fibre as a component of natural fibres. Within the framework of the project, a completely innovative production process will be developed in order to use the fibre strength, optimally. The savings potential concerning CO2-emissions is about 20,000 tons in Germany.
Fluffy, climate-neutral carpet fibres
The production of carpets is energy-intensive whether it is made from wool or plastics. For a climate-friendly alternative, the researchers of the BleNaBis-project use re-growing resources. The carpet fibre is based on linseed fibre and a sustainable eco-polyamide fibre which consists of 70 percent castor oil. The fibre blend improves the climate footprint of a carpet with similar utility properties by more than 50 %.
KlimaExpo.NRW is a state-wide initiative which aims to use the energy transition, climate protection, and the necessary adaption to climate change as a force for the sustainable development of economy and society. The aim of the initiative is to present successful and innovative projects to a wider public on the national and the international level and to initiate greater engagement for climate protection. KlimaExpo.NRW presents North-Rhine Westphalia’s technologic and economic potential in this area and serves as an exhibition and hub for new ideas at the same time; not for one day, but until 2022.
In 2017, the temporary presentations of KlimaExpo.NRW take place in the whole state. This project was funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).