BIOGEARS first biobased ropes prototypes now ready!

Published 16/03/2021

The BIOGEARS project is delighted to announce the first prototype biobased rope has been developed.

The BIOGEARS project intends to provide the European aquaculture sector with innovative products and a value chain to challenge the existing gap of biobased ropes (biogears) for offshore aquaculture, which are currently manufactured with 100% non-recyclable plastics. The development of this prototype marks a key milestone in the project and a significant step towards the project’s contribution to a more eco-friendly aquaculture industry.

To develop the right bioplastic formulation for the aquaculture sector, it is important to balance the functionality and biodegradation behaviour of the biobased ropes and a number of research activities have been conducted into the design and development of the biogears prototype.

In order to identify the target properties for the biogears, the technical and functional specification for plastic ropes currently used in aquaculture were defined. The final specification were selected after considering the rope characteristics, durability, surface area and rope structure, and cost-efficiency in mussel and seaweed culture. Potentially suitable biobased materials were selected and characterised for fulfilment of mechanical (strength and elongation) linear density. Filament extrusion tests were performed at lab scale in order to select/discard the commercially available grades suitable for production of fibre/yarns. From this, biobased monofilaments were developed and technically assessed in terms of mechanical and rheological properties (complex viscosity). Once suitable materials were selected, the prototype development considered different configurations such as the inclusion of additional internal or external loops to increase the surface area and the mechanical properties most suitable for mussel and seaweed production.

The next step in the project is to test the prototype in field trials for validation at sea to reach TRL 5 – 7. Test facilities have been identified in different sea environments: 1. offshore high energy conditions in a longline system, 2. low energy conditions in a raft system, and lastly 3. an Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) proof of concept at lab scale in a research centre. The field demonstrations are set up and will perform and monitor at least two production cycles with biobased ropes under best practices for eco-friendly aquaculture.

These prototype biogears and pilot tests taking place in the BIOGEARS project aim to reduce the current technological gaps and extend the potential use in the sector. The results of the project support creating a new biobased value chain under the EU Bioeconomy Strategy framework.

Watch the short clip of production here:

Congratulations to project partners GAIKER, CENTEXBEL and ITSASKORDA!
GAIKER produced the compounds, CENTEXBEL tested their processability to a range of filaments and manufacture both monofilaments as well as the finer multifilaments and optimise the extrusion processing conditions and analyse the properties of the resulting filaments. ITSASKORDA produced the prototype ropes.

Last edited 26/03/2021

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