Natural fibre/furan based composite materials for construction applications

Project website

Duration: 24 months

Leader and Partners:

  • TransFurans Chemicals (Belgium) - Leader
  • Centexbel (Belgium)
  • Ecotechnilin (UK)

Funding Organisations:

  • IWT (Belgium)
  • TSB (UK)

Project summary

The ECOPANEL project aims to develop sustainable, bio-based alternatives to current construction panels. The proposed composite material systems will consist of a nonwoven natural fibre reinforcement or recycled fibre, combined with formulated furan resin. These composite materials should comply with the needs of sustainable building materials.
ECOpanel will develop high speed continuous techniques for the production of these panels. Ecopanel aims to offer a significant contribution to creating more sustainability in construction by taking into account the whole life cycle.

Impact and Vision

  • Market and Environmental impact
    This project can significantly increase the amount of natural fibre used in construction, not only in the applications envisaged here, but also by inspiring the use of bio-based materials for other applications. The combination of furan resin with other materials is an interesting prospect and TFC has the ability to develop and supply specific resins for multiple niche products, which are typically produced by SMEs. Initial calculations show that replacing just 1% of the market for high end sheeting in construction is replaced by ECOpanel’s products could result market volume of 500 up to 5000MT.
  • Socio-economic impact
    ECOpanel wants to contribute to objectives set forward in European policy:
    Industrial employment via innovative SMEs: ECOpanel has the ability to show that by close collaboration between SMEs (EcoTechnilin), a reseach institure (Centexbel) and a large company (TFC), it is possible to develop innovative products specifically tailored to niche applications. This enables to maintain and even increase industrial employment.
    Contribution to a healthier indoor environment: Ventilated façades reduce the need for air conditioning and improve air circulation in the building. Indoor partitions have the ability to increase acoustic comfort and by replacing currently used materials, VOC emissions can also be eliminated. ECOpanel’s developments are therefore not only bio-based, they are specifically directed at applications that enable a healthier indoor environment.


Eco-Innovera and EcoPanel will allow a relative small group of organization to spearpoint development of a specific construction material. The lean project approach allows a maximal focus on the manufacturing and properties of a building material prone to be competitive in projects of green public procurement.