On Thursday 22 December 2022, the inauguration ceremony of the innovation centre dedicated to sustainable composite materials and processes (SCMM) took place, which the materials department of the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) has just launched.
This new structure aims in particular to develop composite materials with a very low carbon footprint and to demonstrate their benefits through concrete application demonstrators for the automotive, rail, space and aeronautics sectors and future urban air mobility.
The inauguration ceremony was held in the presence of government ministers Franz Fayot, Minister of the Economy, and Claude Meisch, Minister of Higher Education and Research.
The activities of this innovation centre will respond as closely as possible to the future needs of the transport market, which is facing its greatest historical transformation. The initiative will thus be supported by four major players in European transport, namely Toyota, Airbus, Thales Alenia Space and Alstom, who will share their respective vision of the technological needs of the vehicles of the future.
LIST's mission will then be to accelerate the use of biosourced and/or recyclable materials for ultra-light functional parts, and to develop industrial processes with a low carbon footprint. These technological bricks will be integrated in the form of demonstrators developed and built with the involvement of industrialists active in composite materials, members of the SCMM. By way of example, these may be interior panels or automobile bodywork, vehicle structural elements, battery shells or even hydrogen tanks.
To work with the innovation centre, subcontractors from major automotive, aeronautical, rail and space groups must be members for an annual fee. They will then have access to the results of all SCMM research projects and will be able to purchase the industrial property developed. Several Luxembourg and European companies will join the SCMM.
A budget of more than €16 million
This innovation programme has an initial duration of four years for a budget of more than €16 million, co-financed by LIST, the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the Ministry of the Economy, the Fonds Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as well as by industrial members. In particular, it will include an investment of €3 million by LIST in new industrial technologies that will complete the offer of the composite platform of LIST's Materials Department.
Claude Meisch, Minister of Higher Education and Research, stated "The SCMM-IC, by covering the entire innovation chain, from basic research to applied research, with the ultimate objective of transferring and use of the results in the priority sectors of the automotive, aeronautical and space industries, is in perfect harmony with the national research and innovation strategy. Through its activities, the LIST innovation center contributes both to the strengthening of research infrastructure and to economic diversification.”
Franz Fayot, Minister of the Economy, stated “Achieving climate neutrality will require significant technological developments to make functional materials and structures lighter, even ultralight. Composite materials are particularly suited to meeting this challenge if we also manage to make them recyclable or even biosource them. The new innovation centre at LIST allows Luxembourg to play, where appropriate, a pioneering role in this field, which constitutes a tremendous opportunity to make both the economy and society more sustainable.”
Thomas Kallstenius, CEO of LIST, stated “We are proud to announce the launch of our innovation centre for manufacturing and sustainable composite materials. The ultralight composite materials developed within this centre are designed with durability in mind. They are often made from recycled and renewable resources, which results in a lower carbon footprint than traditional materials. We are committed to sustainability and are delighted to offer these innovative materials and solutions to the partners of this first research programme of its kind in Luxembourg.”
Damien Lenoble, Director of the Materials Research and Technology Department at LIST, stated “The transport sector is going through, and will go through, a unique transformation over the next 30 years: electric cars, aircraft and hydrogen vehicles, urban air mobility, space transport of the future will rely all on ultra-light, low-carbon and recyclable structural materials. These are all criteria that make sustainable composite materials and their manufacturing processes one of the technological pillars of this transformation. This innovation centre is quite unique, as it wishes to tackle one of the Achilles' heels of European industry: the rapid transition of research results to the real economy by bringing together in an ambitious innovation programme the end users (OEMs), national and international players in the composite materials sector and LIST researchers. As such, we are honoured that the world leaders in the aeronautics (Airbus), automotive (Toyota), rail (Alstom), space (Thalès Alenia) sectors support this new LIST innovation centre.”