Technological Centre

DICKENS: 7 leading companies to investigate the synthesis of composites from natural sources

Last May, CDTI approved financing a budget of more than 5 million euros for the DICKENS project, for industrial research in obtaining composites from natural sources.


The project is funded through the National Business Research Consortiums (CIEN, for its Spanish acronym) strategic program.


On November 3, the first consortium meeting of the project took place, formed by ENCE, BASF Construction Chemicals, Omar Coatings, CARINSA, QMC Tecnología Química, Tecno-Caucho and Pinturas BRUPER.



Plastic and composites have become the industry’s preferred material over the last century. However, the decrease in oil reserves and its non-biodegradability are two handicaps of great relevance in this type of fundamental materials. In the field of thermoset plastics, the toxic products required for their synthesis are added (isocyanates, bisphenol A, epichlorohydrin, styrene, etc.), on which the European regulatory framework is increasingly restrictive.



Aware of the problems and the industrial need to develop solutions, CETIM has promoted the DICKENS project for the research and optimization of biocomposites obtained from natural sources, mainly lignin and vegetable oils, through innovative, safe and sustainable technologies. With this approach, the main objective of the project is to achieve optimized biobased materials –among which to highlight primers, bioresins or bio-coatings, among others. These biobased materials have the potential to tackle the problems mentioned above. In the words of Marcos Sánchez, principal investigator of polymers and coatings in our Advanced Materials area “we hope to obtain completely sustainable and commercially viable products, which entail an improvement in the properties to their current analogues, from fossil sources”. These materials can represent a revolution in many sectors, such as chemical solutions and construction, and in applications such as additive manufacturing, composite parts, coatings, adhesives, etc. “Thanks to its renewable nature, availability and low cost”, highlights Sánchez. Furthermore, thanks to the use of bioadditives and biocharges developed, they can serve to reduce the use of reinforcing fibers, such as glass or carbon and / or synthetic and / or harmful additives.


Plant-based resin.

To achieve this ambitious objective, the project brings together in its consortium the entire value chain necessary in the development of these bioproducts, from the components to the final products of the paper industry, additives and encapsulates, plastic chemical solutions (additive manufacturing, composite parts, coatings, adhesives) and construction. The consortium, led by ENCE and with BASF Construction Chemicals, Omar Coatings, CARINSA, QMC, Tecno-Caucho and Pinturas BRUPER, brings together European and world leaders in their markets. As main industrial players in their sectors, they will contribute to the development of the bioeconomy and the positioning of the sectors involved at the forefront of sustainable and bio-based industry.


To advance the investigations, the first meeting of the project took place last Tuesday, November 3. Carried out online, to comply with all health protocols, both the 7 members of the consortium and the subcontracted research organizations (Aimplas, ICN2, and CETIM) attended. In it, the companies and centers involved planned the next steps of the project and the research to be carried out.



A moment from the first DICKENS consortium meeting.


In the project, CETIM collaborate from our Advanced Materials R&D area with the companies ENCE, BASF, Pinturas Bruper, CARINSA and QMC. From the first steps of DICKENS we have been working on the definition of requirements for both biocomponents and biocomposites; and during the next 4 years we will continue our research and optimization work on obtaining biomatrices, biofuels and bioadditives, as well as in the formulation of biocomposites.