General information

Started: 01/10/2010
Theme: Durable & Sustainable Structural Materials
Program manager: Griet Van Cauwenberghe

Griet Van Cauwenberghe - 200x200

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NANOFORCE - Next generation nano-engineered polymer hybrids

The vertical research program Nanoforce is all about light weight structural composites. The first focus of the program was on multifunctional composites combining a polymer matrix with steel reinforcement or combining a polymer matrix with Carbon NanoTube (CNT) reinforcement.

Since 2014, the scope was broadened towards other types of reinforcing fibers (glass fiber, carbon fiber and natural fibers like flax) and a broader range of polymer matrices. Also different combinations of reinforcing fibers and polymer matrix materials, to combine the advantages of the different materials, are being considered.

The overall goal of the program is to develop composite materials that can result in lower energy use, increased durability and improved recyclability.


The Nanoforce Consortium is well-balanced, combining both industrial interest in composites and academic expertise in Flanders. For information about the ongoing and finished projects, please consult the project pages or see the overview below.

NANOFORCE structure
polymer matrix
Carbon nanotubes



The objective of the PET2VALUE ICON-project is to develop an upcycled micro-reinforced recycled PET, that can be reused in other processes (extrusion, 3D printing) within other companies. As a result of this project, less PET-film waste needs to be incinerated, which has a positive impact on the CO2 exhaust. And secondly, the resulting end products will be more sustainable according the circular economy criteria.


In the ProUD ICON-project, the research focus lays on micro-reinforced thermoplastic unidirectional tapes and tow prepegs for use as local reinforcing material in window profiles, thermoplastic beer crates and palettes. How? By developing glass fiber reinforced thermoplastic unidirectional tapes by further knowledge build-up on micro-reinforcement of C-reinforced tapes from the T4G-project.


Composite Pressure Vessels (CPVs) are the preferred choice for the storage of alternative fuels, such as hydrogen. The ICON project OptiVaS aims to establish design and manufacturing guidelines that will enable the optimization of the safety margins in CPVs. This way variability of CPVs performance can be lowered and thus the reliability improved resulting in the reduction of safety factors.


Reliability is vital for composites, as most structures are designed not to fail under any circumstance. RELFICOM aims for a breakthrough in the reliability of fibre- reinforced composites, through improved material design and better understanding and controlling variability. This will lead to reductions in safety factors, and lighter and safer composite structures. Another aim is on improving composites recyclability.


The ICON project “HYTHEC” proposes innovations in fibre hybridization aiming at the development of thermoplastic composite materials with a unique combination of lightness, stiffness and toughness. The project brings together three industrial partners and a university to address challenges in design and production technology of this new class of materials, followed by application development.


T4G aims at developing unidirectional thermoplastic tapes composited of carbon fibres impregnated in a polyamide matrix and a complementary consolidation process for its application in high pressure vessels. This will be supported by the development of models for parametric and thermal modelling of the tape and modelling of the mechanical and structural performance of tape-wound pressure vessels.


The aim of the Nonwoven project is to develop nonwoven composites, resulting in a material with high stiffness, low weight and high impact resistance. Because the processing conditions will significantly affect the material’s mechanical properties and cost, a dedicated manufacturing process will be developed. A numerical experimental strategy for testing the impact behaviour of semi-finished products will be build as well.


The aim of the FLAXPRECOMP ICON project is the development of low-cost flax preforms for high-performance composites. How? In this FLAXPRECOMP ICON project an adapted extraction process for flax fibers will be developed and validated. The overall aim of the FLAXPRECOMP project is to obtain an economically competitive production method of preforms for high performance composite applications.


The main goal of the ICON project ModelSteelComp was the development of a validated predictive model of mechanical behaviour and electromagnetic properties of steel fiber reinforced composites with a focus on short random steel fiber composites. Today, missing durability simulation tools are a key restricting factor for using more composites in applications, including automotive.


The SBO project NaPoS focused on composites existing of steel (fibers and plates) in a polymer matrix. The objective of NaPoS was to develop a scientific base to optimize the interaction between steel and polymers. By optimizing this interaction, the unique properties of steel (high toughness and high stiffness) can result in tough and durable steel reinforced polymer composites.


The SBO project MLM had as long term innovative purpose to develop adequate multi-level models of the mechanical behaviour of hybrid materials, including fiber reinforced composites (glass, carbon, natural fibers and steel). Within the Nanoforce program, the focus was originally on steel-polymer hybrids with modified interfaces, therefore this is also the focus in this project.


The aim was developing the basic science and processing concepts for making aligned carbon nanotube bundles (aCNTb's). These aCNTb’s should have comparable stiffness as carbon fibers and a higher toughness. The new processing concepts should avoid some of the drawbacks of existing CNT processes. The bundles can become a next generation reinforcement for composites.

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