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Λογότυπος της Ευρωπαϊκής Επιτροπής
Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Objectives of the commitment

World Natural Rubber (NR) consumption is expected to be 17 million tonnes by 2025. More than 1 million tonnes of NR is used in the EU, but not one gram is produced inside the EU. The global rubber shortage of natural rubber (NR) may increase to over one million tonnes by 2020, as demand from tyre makers in emerging markets will boost consumption. NR is mainly produced in Asia (93%). Hevea, a native tree from South America, is currently the only commercial source of NR. NR is a strategic raw material, on which the European industry has a complete dependency. Alternative sources of natural rubber to Hevea exist. Guayule (Parthenium argentatum) is one of them. It can grow on marginal lands in semi-arid regions of European Mediterranean countries.

Description of the activities

Guayule is a bush, native from North of Mexico (Chihuahua desert), a perennial crop of the Asteraceae family. It is well adapted to semi-arid and Mediterranean areas, growing well under temperatures from -9°C to 40°C with 350-640 mm of rainfall/year. Hevea grows only under tropical climate conditions. The climatic conditions suitable for guayule are encountered in Greece, south of Spain, France, Italy, Morocco, Turkey. Guayule has been grown on commercial scale (Emergency rubber project during WWII, Sacaton Firestone project in the 80s, Yulex and Bridgestone in Arizona, USA presently). Guayule plants are harvested 2 years after planting (Hevea 7 years) by cutting mechanically the plants at 5 cm of the soil, then each year during 10-12 years depending on irrigation applied. Rubber content in a plant depending on area of cultivation, soil, season, irrigation is from 5 to 12% in Europe. Resins content also available in the plant are in the same range of content. Potential yield reported is 500kg to 1 tonne/ha/year (Hevea 1200 kg/ha/year average for smallholders). Europe with CIRAD (France) and Wageningen University and Research centre (The Netherlands) has the knowledge gained during the EU-PEARLS project (P212827; 2008-2012) on genomics and agronomy of guayule in France and Spain, on the extraction process of rubber and resins, rubber quantity and quality measurement. The partners of the EU-PEARLS project, coordinated by Wageningen UR Food & Biobased research, were able to produce rubber good prototypes (gloves and tyres). Guayule latex is also known to be non-allergenic (hypersensitivity type I) as it contains less proteins than the allergenic Hevea latex.

Guayule will not only produce rubber competitive to Hevea polyisoprene, but also bioproducts according to the biorefinery cascading concept and green chemistry. The commitment will support upcoming activities aiming at developing a biorefinery process which represents the key for the access to an integrated, economically feasible production chain of chemicals and biomaterials of the future. With growing sustainable development consciousness, polymers or chemicals based on guayule renewable material will gradually replace polymers and molecules of the petrochemistry in this century.

Description of the expected impacts

The SIP Action I.9. (Substitution of Hevea brasiliensis-based natural rubber in tyres) mentions as expected impacts: The proposed specific actions should result in the reduction of import dependence of rubber used in high-volume applications and diversifying their supply in a sustainable and affordable way, creating a competitive advantage for the EU industry and new jobs.

The EU-NARS-G initiative will have the following objectives and impacts:

- Setting the basis to develop commercial guayule cultivation (available land, not competing with food)
in Europe for more renewable raw materials, availability and security of supply of NR to the EU rubber industry (tyres and rubber goods), leading to more European jobs.

- Implementation of 2.000 hectares of guayule fields in Mediterranean countries (Greece, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Morocco, etc.) from 2015-2019 for seeds production, plant extraction pilots, economic feasibility study and training to provide the basis for a larger scale extension (see below)

- Continuation of research activities on genomics and mutation breeding to develop EU-guayule lines/varieties (yield of >1 tonne/ha/year or more), on the agronomy of guayule (planting, irrigation, harvest technology, rubber control in the field).

- Improvement of existing EU "green" process for high quality rubber, and additives for rubber from guayule by-products; build a 5 tonne/day plant to produce latex and dry rubber for large scale testing, mainly in tyres, to assess quality according to processing options, and turn guayule as a workable alternative or complement to Hevea rubber.

- Development of a new commodity chain adapted to climatic conditions and expected climate change in Europe

- Provide enough biomass for the production of other bio-polymers using existing technologies

- From 2019, partners will transfer their knowledge and technology to investors, farmers and processors for larger scale cultivation in appropriate areas in Mediterranean Europe with a target of 25.000 ha by 2022 (2-3% of EU NR consumption), then allowing fast large scale expansion up to 250.000 ha (20% of EU NR consumption) according to demand.

- Re-localisation of the NR latex gloves industry and condoms from Asia to Europe with job creation (jobs were lost with the delocalisation of the latex gloves industry in the 1970s). There will be also a reduced dependency on nitrile rubber production from Asia used as a substitute to NR from Hevea by the latex gloves industry.
- The EU guayule commodity chain will participate to regain part of the 23.000 jobs lost by the European rubber industry (Germany, France, Italy and Spain) between 2006 and 2011, as employment in the rubber sector has decreased at a rate of -2% per year.

Coordinating organisation & role

Name of the coordinating organisation: ETRMACountry: BelgiumEntity profile: OtherRole within the commitment:

Project Coordination

Other partners

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V.

Name of the organisation: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V. Country: Germany Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: Fraunhofer will lead the CFRP and GFRP recycling research.
Fraunhofer will perform corrosion tests on the developed materials.
Fraunhofer will work with CIDAUT on the implementation, validation and refinement of LCCA tools for the project. Fraunhofer is the Quality Manager of the Consortium and will oversee deliverables and general reporting are produced with the best possible quality following agreed review standards.

Fundacion Cidaut

Name of the organisation: Fundacion Cidaut Country: Spain Entity profile:
Role within the commitment: CIDAUT will lead the research activities on materials recycling and compounding, implementing lab scale demonstrators of each process at its premises and, later, supporting end-users upscale the processes.
CIDAUT will perform mechanical tests, microstructural analyses, injection moulding capability studies on the developed materails, and will work with Fraunhofer on the implementation, validation and refinement of LCCA tools for the project.

RWTH Aachen University (Institute of plastic processing (IKV)

Name of the organisation: RWTH Aachen University (Institute of plastic processing (IKV) Country: Germany Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: RWTH will implement the novel 3D Generative Preforming process (3D Fibre Spraying) that enables to create high-value long fibre-reinforced 3D preforms for thermoplastic and thermoset composites at low process costs (different kinds of yarn as a raw material, low tooling costs due to low cavity pressures). This cost effective technology allows to align the sprayed fibres in order to produce high-performance, engineered anisotropic products.

Universita' di Cagliari

Name of the organisation: Universita' di Cagliari Country: Italy Entity profile:
Role within the commitment: University of Cagliari is one of the leading European organization in the resin design and coupling with thermoplastic and thermose materials. University of Cagliari will support in the definition of the composite materials, both from CFRP/GFRP, ABS and Rare Earth composite material.

Relight

Name of the organisation: Relight Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: RELIGHT will work with ITRB to provide the research partners with residues for the recycled ABS supply and the REE recovery processes, including their HydroWEEE process as part of the processes to be studied and analyzed.

Piaggio Aerospace

Name of the organisation: Piaggio Aerospace Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - large company
Role within the commitment: Piaggio Aerospace is one of the project End Users (Aeronautics Industry): as such it will provide requirements and further applications that could be developed with the Consortium Materials. Piaggio will assist in the compounds selection, provide Fraunhofer with specific corrosion requirements on business jet size aircraft, and will assess that the developed materials performance fits the selected applications desired improvements.

Blackshape Aircrafts

Name of the organisation: Blackshape Aircrafts Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: Blackshape Aircrafts is one of the project End Users (Aeronautics Industry): as such it will provide requirements and further applications that could be developed with the Consortium Materials. Blackshape will support to fulfill the requirements of the aeronautics industry on ultra light jet, light jet and trainer for Syllabus, and will assess that the developed alloys performance fits the selected applications desired improvements.

KU Leuven

Name of the organisation: KU Leuven Country: Belgium Entity profile: Academia
Role within the commitment: KUL will collaborate on the balance problem studies and will lead the rare earth recovery research with the solvometallurgical and ionometallurgical processes.
KUL will also contribute to the final compounding selection.
KUL is the Dissemination Manager of the project, promoting that all partners are active on the project Dissemination.

FIDAMC

Name of the organisation: FIDAMC Country: Spain Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: FIDAMC is going to lead the Work Package on Compression Moulding with CFRP-enhanced materials. As part of the AIRBUS Group, FIDAMC will also be able to provide the input material.
FIDAMC successfully developed a 3D Printer of own design to serve the Aerospace Industry and will be supporting Smart Lab 3D Industries in its 3D printer design.

COMPOSITE INNOVATION CENTER

Name of the organisation: COMPOSITE INNOVATION CENTER Country: Canada Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: Composite Innovation Center is one of the world leading organization in the field of Composite materials, both from carbon fiber and vegetal-based fibers.
Composite Innovation center has successfully implemented, at lab-scale, recycling processes for CFRP and GFRP.

Existing EU Contribution: No

Period to implement the commitment: from 01-02-2015 to 31-12-2022