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23rd November 2018, Paris

French aerospace project looks to bamboo

Paris-headquartered Assystem Technologies is working with seven French partners as part of the Bamco Consortium to rapidly develop new biosourced technical composites based on long bamboo fibres.

Assystem, working with Tolouse-based Cirimat in the Fui Bamco collaborative project, has already validated a continuous bamboo fibre to reinforce a bio-sourced thermoplastic matrix at laboratory scale.

Assystem has already validated a continuous bamboo fibre to reinforce a bio-sourced thermoplastic matrix at laboratory scale. © Bamco Consortium/Assystem Technologies

Although there are already other natural fibre solutions available that use flax or hemp fibres, these biocomposites are completely new and could potentially replace glass/phenolic composites as a result of their lightness, their thermal resistance and their mechanical properties in terms of strength and impact/vibration absorption. The cultivation of bamboo also has sustainable advantages including rapid growth with low water consumption, low soil usage and the absence of any need for fertilisers or pesticides.

The concept must now be validated at an industrial scale, which is the aim of the Bamco Consortium, in which Assystem, and Cirimat are being joined by Arkema, Cobratex, Specific Polymers, Compositadour, Lisa Aeronautics and Mécano ID.

With its in-depth experience of materials engineering and aerospace industry expertise, Assystem Technologies is involved in designing the prototype components. It will also provide the governance structure for the extensive project.

Arkema and Specific Polymers have responsibility for the formulation and application of the biosourced polymers used for the composite matrices.

Cobratex will research and propose candidate species of bamboo, some of which are grown in France. In responding to the constraints involved in using the full range of matrices and composite processes, Cobratex will optimise its own conversion process and reinforcement technologies. The company will also be responsible for the upscaling of the techniques used to apply the technical reinforcement solutions and semi-finished products developed directly by Cirimat.

Cirimat will focus on the design and laboratory-scale production of continuous bamboo fibre composites using thermoplastic and thermosetting matrices and Compositadour will look at industrial scale-up.

Mécano ID is responsible for conducting the vibration absorption tests and modelling biocomposite behaviour.

Finally, plane maker Lisa Aeronautics will incorporate a prototype component in its future aircraft.

The project has just entered its operational phase and the first prototype components are scheduled for 2021.

Potential applications are in cabin interiors, in cover panels and fuselage cladding panels, and even in the onboard galleys used to prepare and store in-flight meals on aircraft. There could also be applications in the manufacture of finished components for use in the marine and leisure sports markets.

Certificated by the Aerospace Valley competitiveness cluster, and approved by the Direction Générale des Entreprises (DGE) for inclusion in the FUI 24 single inter-ministerial fund earmarked to provide finance for competitiveness cluster projects, the Bamco project is supported by the French regions of Occitanie Pyrénées-Méditerranée and Normandie, as well as by Bpifrance.

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