Southern Manufacturing

Rapra Leads EU Research for Conductive Polymers

03 August 2005

Rapra Technology, Europe's leading polymer research and test house, has secured 5 million Euros of funding from the EU as part of a European consortium to improve the electrical conductivity of a range of polymer materials, demonstrating their application in automotive and other end use sectors.

The research project is being part financed by the European Commission under the sixth framework programme as an Integrated Project for Small and Medium size enterprises

A team of companies and research partners from the development consortium - spread across the EU - recently met in Valencia in order to map out the plan of activity for the next four years. These companies and the EU will commit a total of EUR 9.06 million to the project.

The results of the work will be communicated through EU bodies that are members of the consortium such as the European Plastic Converters in Belgium, Mavesz in Hungary, BvM in Holland and the British Plastics Federation in the UK.

The main goals of the PolyCond project are:
To develop melt processable inherently conducting polymers (ICPs) with increased electrical conductivity.
To develop new cost effective processes for the surface modification of carbon nanotubes.
To develop a cost effective plastic processing method for temperature sensitive conductive composites. To increase SME competitiveness.

The PolyCond project is the latest in an increasing number of Rapra-led successes in large collaborative polymer research projects which is Rapra’s fastest growing business.

Project leader Mark Gaddes notes that: 'From a standing start four years ago we have now contributed some GBP 3.1 million to total group turnover. Our annual income for 2005-2006 is projected at some GBP 2.4million'.

Further adding that 'Our successful projects are often developed on an opportunistic basis but most typically stay close to the stated programmes and guidelines for research and development within the EU and its nation states.' Gaddes says the Rapra activity makes special demands on the skills of Rapra's research and proposal team; a team which has developed a unique blend of research, scientific and other skills in order to win bids and create workable proposals for various funding bodies in Europe and for other investors, including the Rapra Technology Board.

In addition to Rapra, the partners include UK companies, Whitaker Technical Plastics, TBA Electro Conductive Products and Rondol Technology. Spanish companies Faperin, Intermedic, Molespol, Compaoia Levantina de Reductores and Aimplas are also involved, as is Finnish company Panipol, Labo from Hungary and Dutch companies Promolding and Colorex.

These organisations are supported by researchers from TNO in Holland, VTT in Finland and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

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