More than €1.7 million will be provided by the European Commission throughout the three-year project, called UltraFibre. The research will aim to reduce the costs associated with the processing of natural fibres, whilst improving fibre quality, consistency and efficiency. This will be achieved by delivering a technology to deliver tonnage quantities of high quality fibre, conferring:

  • reduced production costs;
  • higher quality elementary natural fibres; and
  • higher quality commercial thermoplastic and thermosetting composites in targeted end-user applications.

Smithers Rapra, a subsidiary of the US-based independent testing, consulting and contract research organisation The Smithers Group, is part of the project team.

According to Smithers Rapra’s Project Leader Suzanne Wilkinson: “Smithers Rapra will bring our extensive knowledge of both polymer and polymer composite technology to the project. The UltraFibre project aims to realise these goals by developing the patented 'InControl hydro-acoustic system' and 'AcXys Technologies atmospheric plasma treatment system' for improved adhesion between polymeric materials and the natural fibres.”

The UltraFibre consortium is comprised of the following research organisations, associations and companies:

  • Smithers Rapra (UK);
  • GreenGran BV (Netherlands);
  • InControl Ultrasonics Ltd (UK);
  • Wageningen UR – Food and Biobased Research (Netherlands);
  • European Industrial Hemp Association (Germany);
  • British Plastics Federation (UK);
  • Kenaf Eco Fibres Italia Spa (Italy);
  • Marek Radwanski EKOTEX (Poland);
  • AcXys Technologies SA (France);
  • Omega Makina Ltd (Turkey);
  • MoveVirgo Ltd (UK); and
  • CESAP (Italy).