Hexcel/Arkema to open R&D lab in France; tie-up with Lavoisier Composites for recycled composites

Hexcel/Arkema to open R&D lab in France

Composites suppliers Hexcel and Arkema are to set up a joint R&D laboratory in Les Avenières (Isère), France, in April. This follows the companies’ previous announcement in March 2018 that they were forming a strategic alliance to develop thermoplastic composite solutions for the aerospace sector, combining the expertise of Hexcel in carbon fibre and Arkema in PEKK.

The companies’ objective at this new lab is to develop carbon fibre-reinforced thermoplastic prepreg tapes to enable lightweight parts to be produced for future generations of aircraft. These solutions will provide lightweight and cost effective technologies including faster production cycles for customers in the aerospace and the space and defence sectors.

Through this collaboration, an initial industrial pilot line will be installed in the new lab in the coming weeks. The companies expect to start supplying carbon/thermoplastic UD tapes from this pilot line to customers for evaluation beginning in Q3 2019.

Meanwhile, in other news, Hexcel has joined forces with a Lyon-based start-up, Lavoisier Composites. This company has developed Carbonium, a new generation of material sourced entirely from carbon composite by-products generated by the French aerospace sector. Hexcel supplies composite materials for the latest generation of aircraft such as the Airbus A350 XWB (53% composite structure), which it says has “greatly contributed to the reduction of the aircraft's weight, thereby reducing its fuel consumption and carbon footprint”.

Composites are a significant first step toward tackling environmental and economic challenges, and eco-sourcing of the industry by-products also plays a key role.

Carbonium, which was developed with a process based on three patents pending, reduces overall environmental impact by 40-50%, compared to equivalent products derived from virgin materials. Based on the "climate change" factor, the life cycle assessment carried out with Hexcel revealed that the up-cycling of by-products from the aerospace composites industry leads to a reduction in CO2 emissions of 13 kg per kg of Carbonium used.

In its first year of operation, Lavoisier Composites has already enjoyed commercial success, including the launch of two top-of-the-range watch models by Swiss luxury watchmaker Ulysse Nardin using this new material.


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