REDONDO | A New Horizon Europe Project
REDONDO | A New Horizon Europe Project
REDONDO, i.e., Reversibly Designed Cross-linked Polymers, is a new Horizon Europe project that started in September 2022. REDONDO deals with cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) and strategiestointroduce recyclability in PEX products to improve their environmental footprint. Polyethylene (PE) is a commodity plastic and one of the most widely used synthetic polymers. Some commonapplicationsof PE are plastic bags, bottles, caps, toys and housewares, agricultural mulch, etc.

PE is a thermoplastic polymer, which in layman’s terms means that it can be melted and processed. To improve its properties, PE is chemically cross-linked. During cross-linking, new intra-chain bonds are formed between the linear chains of PE, linking the chains together in a network. Compared to PE, cross-linked PE (PEX) exhibits higher thermal stability, better chemical resistance and improved structural integrity. However, due to the existence of cross-links, PEX cannot be melted and recycled/reused, and it is generally downcycled as a filler in other composite materials.

REDONDO aims to achieve a fully reversible cross-linking process, that will enable the synthesis of a reversibly cross-linked polyethylene (rPEX), that will be inherently recyclable and thus sustainable-by-design. Additionally, innovative biobased & green additives, such as nanolignin and nanocellulose, will be used to confer to rPEX novel/improved properties. The successful synthesis of rPEX will be demonstrated in two applications: pipes and cables for photovoltaic applications. Furthermore, safe- and sustainable-by-design concepts will be adopted. Indeed, the sustainability and safety of the newly developed rPEX materials are very important and will be assessed throughout the project, from the design phase, to the rPEX formulation and the final products. Finally, REDONDO pioneers with a provision of a circular monitoring tool, PLACE-me, integrating principles of safety- and sustainability-by-design (SSbD) along with a holistic value chain assessment.

Figure 1: REDONDO’s Concept

REDONDO is funded by the European Union’s Horizon research and innovation program. The project is coordinated by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, in Greece. Highly skilled scientists, across the whole value chain, from the design of the polymeric materials to the end-users, with complementary expertise have joined their efforts in this project. The consortium is composed of 11 partners from 6 different European countries and involves academic and research institutions, SME’s as well as a large enterprise.

The kick-off meeting (KoM) took place in Thessaloniki (Greece) in September 2023. It was held at Aristotle University Research and Dissemination Center (KEDEA) and was attended by partners from the whole consortium. Each partner presented their tasks, milestones, and deliverables in the project. Technical elements of the projects were discussed, as well as how the different tasks and work packages would be efficiently coordinated. The partners had fruitful exchanges and everyone looked forward to the next face-to-face actions of the project.

Figure 2: REDONDO’s KoM attendees