Development Areas

New advanced bio-based and recycled high-performance materials with inherent recyclability properties

Efficient processing techniques combined with recycling technologies

for a standardised, holistic sustainable high-performance composite design, modelling and systematic optimisation



The basis of all r-LightBioCom results is the development of new raw materials that reduce weight and cost while introducing recyclability and sustainability into the resulting high-performance composites (HPC). In this regard, new composite materials will be developed and studied comprising i) bio-resins with covalent adaptable networks, and ii) bio-based additives, and iii) recycled and/or sustainable fibres.


  • Current resin technologies are mostly based on petrochemical materials. To enable the creation of a circular (bio)economy in Europe, they need to be replaced by bio-based alternatives.
  • r-LightBioCom Approach: Development of novel, advanced bio-based monomers and resins, vitrimers and/or reversibly cross-linking systems and their hybrids via tailored chemical design allowing efficient use of bio-based resources, integration of inherent recyclability and a resin hybridisation strategy.


  • a) Formulation of bio-based resins including bio-based additives
  • The physical properties (especially mechanical) of the final composite are largely dependent of the degree of nanoparticles dispersion in polymer matrices.
  • r-LightBioCom Approach: Development of ad-hoc formulations and dispersion techniques that allow to properly disperse the additives in the bio-based resin matrix and to achieve proper processability conditions.
  • b) Bio-based nano-additives approach
  • r-LightBioCom Approach: Tailor-made bio-based nanofillers with high surface activity to serve as nucleation and reinforcing elements in cross-linkable resin systems and composite matrices.


  • Commonly, two families of conventional fibres are widely used in the production of composites: Carbon fibres for high performance applications and glass fibres for less demanding applications. Both have excellent properties, however there are many concerns about their sustainability and the environmental footprint is very high since their production involve very high energy consumption processes.
  • Green polymers are available, however, they often reach their limits without fulfilling required technical specifications, and recycled fibres currently have processing problems, such as low strength after recycling as well as low optimisation, producing imperfections in the resulting recycled fibres. 
  • r-LightBioCom Approach: (i) Recycled fibres (r-Carbon, r-Aramid) and (ii) natural fibres (Organic: hemp, flax, kenaf; Inorganic: Basalt) will be used as sustainable alternatives for the development of non-woven hybrid structures as reinforcement in composites.
  • r-LightBioCom will follow two approaches to overcome fibre degradation problems during their processing: New sizings and new processing techniques to obtain textile products based on sustainable fibres (rovings, staple fibre yarns, non-woven and hybrid fabrics) with improved characteristics in comparison to the state of the art. They will be enabled by the introduction of novel carding, air-laid and spinning manufacturing technology.
  • The main results will be a new family of sustainable textile products (ready to be introduced in high performance composite components and structures) that will have improved properties in both mechanical and circularity optimised aspects.

PRODUCTION Technologies


The main environmental impact of high-performance composites (HPC) is related to the high energy demand of the different production processes, which in turn increases the fabrication costs. r-LightBioCom aims to redesign current technologies related to the development of HPC intermediates (prepregs), components (honeycombs) and structures (textile reinforced composites produced by VIP, RTM and pultrusion technologies) to introduce sustainable raw materials in new processes, reducing reaction times and thus energy demand and related costs. Also, new fast curing processes will be optimised to reduce time, consumption, emissions, and related costs.


  • Many HPC production processes do not directly use resin and fibres, but require intermediate steps, such as high added-value intermediates, components, and structures to effectively manufacture HPC.
  • r-LightBioCom Approach: Consideration of different methodological approaches for each kind of HPC component:
  • 1. Intermediates – Prepregs: New formulations suitable for producing sustainable prepregs will be developed using bio-based or recyclable new resins, recovered fibres, and additives along with improved recycling prospects.
  • 2. Components – Honeycombs: r-LightBioCom will develop a technology to enable the transformation of non-woven textiles into honeycomb material, resulting in a more sustainable HPC component. For this purpose, a novel manufacturing technology based on a continuous thermo-compression process will be developed, enabling cheaper and faster production of more sustainable honeycomb materials based on the employment of recycled technical fibers (core components).
  • 3. Structures – Textile Reinforced Composites: Replacing conventional materials such as steel, aluminium and concrete with composites among other materials that offer high performances, easy end-of-life recycling and a higher green content compared to the conventional materials.


  • Composite manufacturing generally involves three production steps: preforming, resin injection and curing followed by final polishing of the resulting structures and components. Curing process typically involve long curing times and toxic emissions to the atmosphere, and have a negative environmental impact as well as high energy costs.
  • r-LightBioCom Approach: Recent work reports the advantages of introducing light-curing resins and including windows in the mould allowing light to pass through to initiate the reaction. With the idea of introducing new fast curing technologies, r-LightBioCom proposes an optimisation of two thermosetting resin processing techniques that are more efficient when combined with agents capable of accelerating the kinetics of the reaction. This optimisation will be carried out by (i) resin transfer moulding (RTM) + Frontal Photopolymerisation, and (ii) microwave-assisted vacuum infusion.



r-LightBioCom proposes a holistic approach combining tools for composite modelling, sustainability, and validation (use phase) with novel composite recycling processes (end of life).


  • During design optimisation, material and component parameters affect each other detrimentally. Therefore, an interdisciplinary and holistic approach must be adapted to achieve the optimum compromise between competing performance measurements.
  • r-LightBioCom Approach: Indirect coupling of different assessment frameworks will be explored, examining the efficiency and accuracy of competing optimisation ideologies/methods enabled by the construction of modular assessment frameworks. Ultimately, a novel Coupled Ecological Optimisation (CEO) framework will be implemented to significantly enhance holistic design for sustainability capabilities and simultaneously reduce time to market for the material innovations.


  • Due to the high and costly computational effort that would be required for detailed numerical modelling of the advanced materials developed in r-LightBioCom, an iterative optimisation of components would currently not be feasible. Consequently, a novel workflow must be developed to directly e.g. find a homogenised material description using a simplified yet solid representation for the core material characteristics.
  • r-LightBioCom Approach: Development of an innovative material card process for the development and validation of numerical simulations through the intensive use of optimisation algorithms.


  • Despite the many advantages of composites, their recycling and recovery of components remains a challenge. As the recycling of aramid, carbon and glass fibre reinforced high performance composites has many limitations, the development of new and efficient recycling streams to recover undamaged fibres and further reuse the matrix in form of monomers and oligomers (liquid recyclates) can solve the existing problem and enable the cycle to be closed.
  • r-LightBioCom Approach: Combining different chemical recycling processes (such as epoxidolysis and solvolysis using appropriate biological solvents and supercritical fluids) could provide better separation performances, enabling recycling of composites in a multi-step process to obtain a recycled liquid/soluble matrix and fibres suitable for subsequent reuse. This would enable the reuse of parts from existing composites in new applications.


  • To determine potential environmental savings according to a “cradle to grave” approach, an environmental impact analysis of materials, processes and products (bio-based resins and sustainable fibres and additives) developed within the r-LightBioCom project over the complete life cycle is required.
  • r-LightBioCom Approach: Verifying from an environmental point of view that the composites developed within the r-LightBioCom project give an advantage against the current state-of-art considering the different raw materials (resins, fibres and intermediate products) as well as curing technologies and recycling processes which encompasses extracting and processing raw materials, transformation, use, reuse and maintenance, potential recycling/upcycling, and final disposal. This will be done by modelling the different options in a specific LCA software to compare their environmental impacts.