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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Objectives of the commitment

• To boost the innovation capacity of the ornamental stone value chain with respect to historical and aesthetic value
• To foster international co-operation among members across the natural stone value chain from extraction to the production of new high performance building materials
• The creation of new value chains for the recovered raw materials even with low mechanical features from by-products of the manufacturing process by collaboration and integration of downstream industries
• To test the viability of solutions and holistic processing concepts for the evaluation of the soundness of the rock and its reinforcement (diagnosis and cures) of both new and already in place materials via pilot actions
• To mobilize a significant part of the natural value chain to increase the impact of research trough innovations and achieve technology transfer.

Description of the activities

Two main obstacles along the road of increasing the market of local ornamental stones within the EU countries can be encountered: the massive import of stones from non-EU countries (like China and Brazil) and the physical-mechanical quality and reliability of natural materials in comparison to those of artificial structural materials.
The first obstacle might be circumvented by considering the benefits of using local stones in terms of environmental footprint (e.g. CO2 emission), increasing the economy and creating new jobs in the EU supply chain of ornamental stones as well as preserving the spirit of place in terms of aesthetic features.
The second obstacle is linked to the technological aspects in the use of ornamental stones for building cladding. There are in fact several issues, related to strength, deformability, durability and restoration, the construction industry ought to face when dealing with the envelope elements of both historical and modern buildings.
SOCRATES project mainly focuses on cladding slabs used in ventilated facades, as they cover a large share in the market of ornamental stones. The goal of the project is manifold:
• Improve the onsite material characterization to examine in mechanical and mineralogical properties of the rock in order to improve marketability of high and controlled quality products. By using advanced measurements techniques spatial variability of aesthetical and mechanical features will be determined and rock feature uncertainties assessed for limit state design application.
• Develop new technologies to improve the strength and durability of slabs while preserving the aesthetic features of the natural material. New products that can be safer, last longer and weight less can be developed e.g. by impregnating through the thickness the slabs with resins, or by designing composite slabs with an internal layer of light-weight material (honeycomb or foam);
• Optimize the testing for the material certification and improve the predictive tools for the structural design and life cycle analysis in order to reduce the distance in terms of quality and reliability between natural and artificial materials;
• Improve the durability of slabs with the aim of expanding the ornamental stone market by including construction sites with more severe environmental conditions (extreme temperature excursions and moisture content in Nordic, warm-humid, and desert-like environments; solid transport by wind; icing);
• Improve the structural performances of the integrated system of slabs and supporting elements in the case of both point-wise (e.g. KB and KEIL dowels) and continuous anchorages (e.g Kerf anchors);
• Develop new non-destructive procedures (e.g. based on acoustic measurements) to assess the resistance of slabs and to monitor their safety over time.
The new methodology will be applied to several pilot sites, chosen for its representativeness of the geological context and deposit and also as a site for future industrial development.
Involved industries will be dedicated to the development of the reinforcing techniques and they will test the new materials with academia to assess the material quality.
Underground mining is an answer to the reduction to environmental impact and, for this reason this project will particularly concentrate on an underground pilot site.

Description of the expected impacts

This commitments brings together expertise from the industries of composite materials with people from the ornamental stone productions world with the aim to produce new appealing products that will revitalize the ornamental stone exploitation reducing the import of rock from foreign countries in the EU market and will improve the stone exports to countries like USA and middle east countries where the stone use is increasing.
The ornamental stone quarry market covers a global income of 21 billion of euro for 96,3 million of tons of extracted stones (in 2011 IMM data) and employs a large global numbers of persons. The world market of ornamental stone and luxury products is globally increased (9,8% between 2011 and 2013) but in the last 5 years a loss of the 25-28% (ISTAT data) of activities has been registered just in Italy and similarly in Europe due to both the economic crisis and concurrence from outside producers (China, Brazil among others).
However the big heritage value of natural stone in European cities together with high aesthetic value of stone make this market potentially still very valuable. The production of new products able to couple traditional aesthetics with modern performance also guaranteed by a new monitoring device can significantly increase the market productivity. On the other hand, the possibility to improve the stone mechanical features allows the use of less quality material reducing the amount of waste with a positive environmental impact.

Coordinating organisation & role

Name of the coordinating organisation: University of Turin - Department of Earth Science (DST)Country: ItalyEntity profile: AcademiaRole within the commitment:

The DST - Unito will coordinate the research and will act as a liking actor among industry and academia. Unito has experts in rock mechanics and rock physics, mineralogy and and geophysics with specifics expertise in ornamental stone use in architecture and historical heritage.

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.


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.


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.


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 07-03-2016 to 07-03-2018