In France, the European Space Agency (ESA) said it is working Côte D’Azur University on a new breed of space-quality composites made from wholly sustainable sources.
“The problem with the classical thermoset resins we use to make space-quality composites is that they are petroleum-based, so by definition they come from a non-renewable resource,” explains ESA materials engineer Ugo Lafont. “So we had the idea of exploring alternatives – could we use biomass as a new source of molecules for these resins, harnessing the same kind of chemical processes?”
“And when we say biomass we don’t mean growing new crops especially for this purpose, but rather reusing existing bio-based material cheaply and efficiently – namely used vegetable oil, timber waste and oceanic algae, Lafont added.”
The parties said that the next step in this three-year project will be to manufacture the composites at larger, demonstrator scale, and then talk to companies about industrial production.