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Sustainability : Materials


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Environment: Materials

Sustainable materials are a much more difficult matter than you would imagine!
So we might think that stone and certainly nature stone is much more sustainable than wood.
Under this heading it will be made clear that it is not all so matter of fact!
The question is not only how long a material will last,because sustainability is more than the time it lasts. Almost as important is the degree in which it can be recycled or regenerated.
Another example may make this even clearer.
Plastic is a rather inert material and as such can last a long time. Most kinds can be burnt, but this will cost energy and is polluting by the toxic gases, which is another problem, not to mention the unmeasurable environment damage for land, sea, rivers etc. by the undestroyable plastic bags. If we do not invent plastic-eating worms or bugs, we will soon be suffocated by all that plastic!
Finding the best material for a certain product is not so simple as it seems. Being environment-minded is one thing, economic rentability is another. An everlasting product is unpayable because the producer will over-saturate his own market.

VITO develops new materials for environment-friendly industrial use and tries to find renovating methods and techniques to use and re-use these raw materials responsibly. This century, even more than the previous one, will be the era of new materials.VITO develops advanced coatings, ceramic components and powerful laser techniques for their production.
They have high-technological applications, even for very everyday products. They like working with aluminium, a light,easily manipulated and non-toxic material. It does not rust, is to be found everywhere and can forever be recycled. But the production asks for a lot of energy, so they are still doing research on that.

This is a rather unknown area for NMS, but not for the three universities among the SDIT partners. Especially Riga and Malta, with their engineer department, are very interested in this Flemish know-how.

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