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ECOBULK - UPC BarcelonaTech Patio RefreshmentsBarcelonaTech, or the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, had a warm welcome for the consortium partners who gathered for one and half days to share and discuss progress in the still very early stages of the ECOBULK project. Dr. Luis Romeral, representing the MCIA (Motion Control and Industrial Applications) group, was a gracious host and by setting up the refreshments in the patio area outside, gave his guests the chance to enjoy the balmy autumn weather with some very good snacks – something much appreciated by those from other regions already in the first grips of winter.

The first day was focused on reviewing the progress in specific work groups responsible for setting the baseline, data, framework and academic foundation to the project. After the opening remarks by Mr Dominik Jasinski from Exergy, which acts as the project coordinator, one of the first things to review was the design framework by profesor Ruud Balkenende and PhD researcher Jelle Joustra of TU Delft. The key consideration for proposing a circular alternative to linear products requires deeper understanding of the role circular design plays in the whole value chain. Currently manufacturers do not have much incentive to build products with a long lifespan. They tend to then opt for composite materials which are economically attractive, but are difficult to recover and recycle. 'Planned obsolence is not an option in our framework', remarked Prof. Balkenende.

The following presentation by Luca Petruccelli from Granta Design detailed the progress in baseline description against which the future improvements using the ECOBULK circular model would be compared, measured and validated. The presentation sparked a stimulating discussion, which subsequently resulted in a consensus as to what materials will have to be sourced for the project - namely the more difficult materials and products which are lacking in recycling options. From the materials point of view, this choice poses an interesting challenge but also increases the incentives to prolong the use of products or parts through smarter design before finally resorting to recycling.

Conenor was up next, presenting interesting results from the experiments done with some of the toughest recycling challenges – FRP materials. The discussion went on from there to find other examples of products and materials that could be sourced and used in the three industrial sectors. Discarded furniture, which in some places such as France, is already being collected in large quantities by project partner Ecomobiliér, could be an interesting resource for bulk volume waste streams. Sorting, processing and finding a suitable target for any remaining material will be one of the many challenges that lie ahead.

Another discussion was led by Francisco Saraina from Coventive (previously NetComposites) on material selections from carbon fibres as sources for their CF-LFT (Carbon Fiber – Long Fiber reinforced Thermoplastics) pellets that can be used for injection moulding of products. Two representatives of the car industry form our consortium, Microcab and Centro Richerche Fiat, discussed this presentation from the perspective of car manufacturers.

The technical presentations continued with Oakdene Hollins, which is working on business planning and exploitation. Represented by Olivia Bertham and David Parker, Oakdene Hollins updated the consortium on the required documentation concerning intellectual property and patent law within the EU.

The closing presentation was led by the host of the meeting, Dr Romeral from BarcelonaTech, who explained the process for developing systems and data management solutions for ECOBULK. These systems will be backbone of the information flow required to support not only the research, but also the designers and manufacturers who will implement the project's findings in the future.

The following day all consortium members gave an overview of the current activities of the work packages and the schedule of their progress.
The whole consortium would like to thank Dr Luis Romeral, the MCIA group and BarcelonaTech for the amazing organisation and the hospitality during the meeting in Barcelona.