The future of composites in sustainable mobility

How will composite materials support the future of mobility and what can we learn from current trends and innovations? These were questions the Symposium 'Composites in Sustainable Mobility' in Ghent on 30 January aimed to give an answer to.

The symposium was organised by KU Leuven, IBN Composieten - Agoria and Sirris - SLC-Lab, with the support of Design Museum Gent.

Symposium conclusions

Lower CO2 emissions and less material waste will result in a significant lower ecological impact of mobility initiatives. Composite materials can make sectors such as automotive, aerospace as well as the medical sector of orthosis and prosthesis, reach this goal. For higher lightweight performance and lower cost, existing composite materials are toughened, cycle times are lowered, and materials are optimised for applications such as H2 tanks and electric vehicles. Furthermore, recycled carbon fibres are finding their way into new products in the shape of non-wovens or short fibre reinforcements, whereas recycled glass fibres are being used as additives for virgin materials.

Next to improved materials, a value chain approach is crucial for a more sustainable mobility. Material suppliers collaborate more with end users in application labs, where composites design and composite materials meet in new concepts. For example, by the development of clever modular vehicles, waiting time during travel can be drastically decreased. In concepts like these, composite materials are crucial for cost efficient, environmentally justified solutions.

The event gave room to inspiring interaction between designers and composite experts, to come to new product designs and to further develop better composites.

Exposition

The setting was Design Museum Gent, where the exposition 'Fibre-Fixed. Composites in Design.' presents an extensive selection of design projects with composite material. The presentation shows an overview of what is possible when fibres are combined with a (bio)plastic, to form fibre-reinforced composite materials. Designing with composite materials takes place in the context of current challenges: global warming, ecological impact, sustainability, mobility, the ageing of population and digitisation. Curators Ignaas Verpoest (KU Leuven) and Lut Pil (LUCA School of Arts) focus on the developments of the past five years and present breakthroughs expected for the coming years.

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