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NCC features in new digital series

Highlighted development eliminates polypropylene and protects marine life.

1st November 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Bristol, United Kingdom


The UK’s National Composites Centre (NCC) is part of a new digital series, Material Change: Resourcing Net Zero, which is exploring expertise and advances throughout the materials cycle to address the climate crisis, achieve net zero targets and accelerate the circular economy.

Launched at an event with senior policymakers in London on October 19th, the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3)-led series features commentary from a range of industry experts and stories from organisations who are driving innovation across exploration and extraction, processing and application, and recycling, repurposing and reuse.

The NCC is one of a number of content partners involved in the campaign and is highlighting the vital role that composite materials play in the UK’s economic and sustainability ambitions.

“As a world-leading authority in advanced composites, we have a proven track record in helping companies of all sizes across the UK to innovate in composites development,” says Kevin Mee, head of chief engineering at the NCC. “Composite materials are a disruptive technology that are crucial in our transition to net zero. Our focus on high performance composites, with the underpinning development around sustainable, bio-derived materials, digital technologies and hydrogen provides a great vehicle to create new jobs and expertise, maintaining the UK’s leadership position for a sustainable future.”

Braiding machine at the NCC. © NCC

Part of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the NCC works with more than 200 SMEs every year who are looking to innovate and scale up their products, giving them access to world-class technologies and expert composites engineers.

This year, it has worked with ARC Marine, a small business based in Torquay developing nature-based solutions for the marine environment. The company needed a sustainable alternative to the plastic ropes employed to secure carbon-neutral marine mats that hold subsea pipes and cables on the seabed.

The NCC’s team of specialist engineers has created a composite rope made entirely from natural and low-carbon minerals and fibres that can not only withstand the harsh sea environment but is kinder to marine wildlife – and could lead to a CO2 reduction of up to 88% when compared to a standard polypropylene rope.

The new rope consists of a mineral inner core and a natural fibre-based outer braiding.

 “With each traditional mat deployed, there’s an average of 140 metres of plastic rope that enters the ocean with it,” explains Tom Birbeck, co-founder and CEO of ARC Marine. “Marine plastics damage our seas by harming numerous sea creatures, including fish, cetaceans, turtles, seabirds, coral and even humans.

“Our plastic-free rope will undoubtedly change the face of the industry by preventing tons of plastic from entering the sea whilst enhancing marine ecosystems. That’s why we’re incredibly proud to have worked with the NCC to create it – they’ve been instrumental in developing and refining the design.”

The NCC’s films can be viewed here.


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