Sustainable materials for aviation

Composites for aviation made from 100% renewable raw materials, with excellent properties and decorative: this is the goal of the consortium in the BioForS project. The aim is to find an alternative for fire-resistant interior paneling in small aircrafts, for which materials from fossil raw materials are currently used. 

Interior of an Embraer business jet © EmbraerMaterials and components used in aviation must be able to withstand extreme loads and be as light as possible. Here, fiber composites are increasingly being used, which can be produced easily and quickly and have excellent mechanical properties. The only drawback is that they are currently still produced from fossil raw materials, some of which are not entirely ecologically safe.
Picture on the right: Interior of an Embraer business jet © Embraer 

A large project team with partners from science and industry has been researching the production of bio-based organo sheets (fabric-reinforced thermoplastics) for visible parts in aircraft interiors since the beginning of 2018. The materials used are polylactic acid (PLA) and vegetable oil-based polyurethanes (TPU) in the form of films as a matrix, which have also been treated with a fireproofing agent, and flax fibers. In order to produce sheets, layers of film and textile webs are alternately layered, heated to melt the polymer, and then pressed. These sheets are then formed, which means that they are heated within a very short time and then pressed into shape immediately afterwards - and all this is done fully automatically. 

Since these are elements in the aircrafts interior that can be seen and touched, the feel and look must be right. For this purpose, they are equipped with a specially developed bio-based and fire-protected decorative layer made of polyamide film or wood veneer, which is bonded to the sheet directly during forming. 

left: Demostrators of the developed organo sheets (left formed, right unformed)
right: Process setup with temperature control unit and press


The  Montanuniversität Leoben is participating in the project with two institutes: The Institute of Processing of Composites at the Department of Polymer Engineering and Science is mainly concerned with the characterization and modelling of forming behavior, while the Institute of Materials Science and Testing of Polymers, in cooperation with the  Polymer Competence Center Leoben, is concerned with the mechanical characterization of the developed material.


Förderung: The Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) - TAKE OFF, Duration 2018 - 2021

Projektpartner: Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH (Consortium leadership), SIEDRU Druck GmbH, F. LIST GMBHMontanuniversität Leoben (institutes of  Processing of Composites and  Materials Science and Testing of Polymers),  Polymer Competence Center Leoben, Alba Tooling & Engineering GmbH