There is an increasing need for products being made by low carbon footprint processes and/or by renewable and recyclable sources, and this project is about developing UHMWPE fibers in a sustainable process. UHMWPE fibrers are considered to have the best weight-to performance ratio among all known materials in ballistic application and is commonly referred to as “the world’s strongest man-made fiber”. Advanced fibers are also used as raw material for high end ropes, in new sustainable composites and could be used in key components for new battery technology. The use of such fibers is today important in Norwegian off-shore energy production, shipping, fisheries and marine fish farming. The main drawback of commercial process to produce UHMWPE fibers, gelspinning process, is that a large amount of hazardous solvents (e.g. decalin, white oil) and extraction chemicals (e.g. Freon, heptane) is utilized and needs to be recovered due to being toxic and highly flammable resulting in high manufacturing cost and low production rate.
The HULK project wants to address this challenge by developing a new and sustainable process for making UHMWPE fibers with improved properties. A good process model will also be developed, which links the process parameters with the structure of the raw material and the end properties of the fibre.
The overall idea of the project is to develop a sustainable process for making Ultra High Molecular Weight
PolyEthylene (UHMWPE) fibers with enhanced properties. A pilot process will be established in Norway for the
purpose of development and support to the installation of commercial production capacity in Norway.
The most critical R&D challenges will be to combine an optimal combination of process development and
development of fiber performance to obtain fibers with enhanced properties, a low environmental CO2 footprint at
an attractive cost level for the current and future needs.
This innovation will provide the industry with cost-efficient, sustainable, and scalable fibre production know-how
and technology tailored for the mentioned applications. Norner will position themselves as a competence centre on
fibre qualification, testing and production, with focus on “green routes” to obtain fibers needed in the current and
future markets. The project team is composed of partners with competence on process development, product development, modelling of the process (Norce) and a supplier of high-end ropes (Selstad AS). A successful project will create a new product portfolio for a spin-off company producing high-end polymer fibers in Norway for the Norwegian, European and global market.