Coordinator presenting SUSTAINAir project
In the first part of the presentation, Jürgen Roither (AIT-LKR, Austria), the coordinator of the SUSTAINair project, gave an overview of the project´s aims, composition, key enabling technologies, and expected impact. Mr Roither demonstrated how by utilizing the 4Rs of the circular economy, SUSTAINair should develop solutions to increase resource efficiency and aircraft performance while cutting down on waste and material costs (zero waste) throughout the aircraft life cycle, which is known as circular aviation.
Circular aviation begins with a design stage which requires a full understanding of the requirements and opportunities of (recyclable) materials to be integrated into the follow-up stages.
Mr Roither stressed the complementary function of each project partner within a particular circular economy stage of the aircraft lifecycle: design, manufacturing, repair and maintenance, end-of-life and recycling. SUSTAINair project partners are working with morphing technologies, designing innovative joints, manufacturing and integrating novel sensors for structural health monitoring, and new MRO and recycling methods.
The SUSTAINair coordinator stressed the need to elevate the discussion about the greening of the aviation industry going beyond solutions for in-operational aspects of air vehicles. The circular economy approach is a pathway towards economical and sustainable business model that extends across the entire value chain and even industries, enabling us to secure reaching the objectives of the EU Green Deal and the aviation industry in general by 2050.
Zero waste and new products
In the second part of the presentation, Jesper de Wit of INVENT GmbH (Germany) presented the motivation and benefits of participation in SUSTAINair project by a highly specialized European SME INVENT. The company is a specialist for the development, qualification, and production of innovative fibre composite structures, mainly for the aerospace industry, but not only. Within SUSTAINair, the company participates in all work packages while leading the work package on demonstrator manufacturing lead.
Mr de Wit highlighted some of the most exciting topics of research for INVENT. One would be developing new concepts for recycling FRP (fibre reinforced plastics) production waste during INVENT´s production operations (reaching zero waste by reusing the scrap). Another highlight of the company´s involvement in SUSTAINair is further developing ideas for innovative separation of bonded joints. There the focus is on investigation of innovative repairing approaches, as well as on the 1st and 2nd life of aerospace and aviation components.
Among the expected results of INVENT´s participation in the project are novel approaches to the cleaner production process, resource efficiency (zero waste) and reduced costs, and the development of new products.
Composites with integrated functional layers, for example, elastomers for morphing, allowing gapless wings, among others, thus improving the airflow, would be one example of new products.
Another one, smart structures helping to detect possible defects. Those will introduce structural health monitoring extending the lifespan of components, predict maintenance cycles and thus reduce operational costs while keeping in mind the end-of-life recycling and up-cycling of materials used.
The Market-driven Circular & Bioeconomy
The aim of the #4GreenDeal event was to showcase how academic-industry partnerships funded by the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BB-JU) and Horizon 2020 are fostering resilience and building towards achieving zero pollution or air, soil, and water. The RTDS Group EU Green Week Event attracted 181 registered participants.