Generation of New Eco-friendly Composite Materials via the Integration of Ecodesign Coefficients

Brahim Attaf

Expert in Composite Materials & Structures


1. Introduction

Thanks to their excellent formability, their mass-saving advantage, their high stiffness-to- density and strength-to-density ratios, i. e., E/p and ст/р and the greater freedom to tailor these high properties in the desired orientation and position, fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites are used in many fields of engineering, from architectural structures, ship superstructures, automobiles, bridge decks, machine parts, dams and reservoirs, to the high technology of the modern aerospace industries (Attaf & Hollaway, 1990a, b). Furthermore, these lightweight materials have some precise objectives, which cannot be reached with some other conventional materials. These attractive advantages coupled with economic design have lead to open up many opportunities to design and manufacture new composite materials and structures for future applications. However, these materials have to satisfy ecodesign requirements, which are based on new standards for designing environmentally – friendly composite products. Within this context, the industrial designers, manufacturers and suppliers who work in the field of composites are having to factor in the impacts of their products on the environment and find new feasible alternatives. Typically, these alternatives are based on a set of equations, called "ecodesign function" (Attaf, 2007). This function must guarantee quality assurance, health protection and environmental preservation all at the same time, making it necessary to come up with ecodesign strategies that include cleaner production, so as to be in compliance with new regulations and still make the product more competitive in the worldwide market.

With this approach as an objective, codes and standards for future composite materials and structures should integrate, at each stage of the designing process, three balanced key criteria characterised mainly by quality assurance (Q for short), health protection (H for short) and environmental preservation (E for short). To achieve these requirements, we have defined and developed new criteria in the form of coefficients. Taking into account the previously specified ecological considerations, these coefficients are now called "eco­coefficients". To assess these eco-coefficients, probability approach (Attaf, 2009) and optimisation procedures based on additive colours technique are undertaken in this analysis. And once these eco-coefficients are determined and approved by ecodesign standards, they can then be integrated into the formulations of design and analysis, in characterisation tests; they can also be implemented into future finite-element computer

programs, etc. In addition, by simply undertaking a comparison of eco-results with classical ones, which do not take into account eco-coefficients, designers and analysts can make better use of ecodesign aspects to assess environmental and health performances.

The aim of this investigation is regarded as: (i) a stimulation for innovation, sustainability and research activities within the field of ecodesign of composite materials and structures; and (ii) an encouragement for designers and engineers involved with high-technology composite materials to have more motivation towards the integration of Q-H-E aspects into the development process of FRP products.