At Ecodek we are not only manufactures of the UK’s premium WPC building components, but we also have a Research and Development Centre based at our manufacturing facility in Wrexham, North Wales. As such, Ecodek have been heavily involved with several Horizon 2020 development projects – more on this later.
Research and Development at Ecodek
The Ecodek Technical Team is seven strong, with numerous specialist skills including Engineering and Design, and we have both a PhD Polymer Engineer, and a PhD Organic Chemist.
Ecodek is fully committed to continuously improve our products. R&D activities at Ecodek are managed by the highly skilled technical team. To support these activities, we have a fully equipped laboratory onsite, to ensure that the quality and integrity of our products are never compromised.
The team are constantly sourcing and trialling process materials, looking for better and more ‘eco-friendly’ sources in order to create stronger and even longer lasting products.
Our onsite lab allows us to continually monitor product quality. Production samples are taken daily and tested to European Standards. Incoming raw materials are closely monitored for conformity to ensure only the highest quality. Additionally, the materials are also tested before trials to ensure they can be processed in our WPC specific equipment.
As our business expands, the team are also working to develop new profiles to further expand Ecodek’s offering.
An example of a ‘win’ achieved following in-house R&D work includes the development of our Advanced Technology boards – reducing the thickness and weight of the board while maintaining the strength and properties of the board. This in turn led to the development of our Heavy Duty board, slightly thicker and heavier, but allowing greater spans.
Horizon 2020 – EU Innovation
At Ecodek we are fully committed to our environment, which has led us to get heavily involved in several European projects within the Horizon 2020 platform, the largest innovation platform in Europe. We are exploring alternatives to raw materials, such as wood fibres, cellulose (from waste products), bio-polymers, biodegradable polymers among other waste stream and eco-friendly products.
The specific H2020 programs we are involved with currently are Smart Plant, Fissac and Gelclad:
- Smart Plant “Scale–up of low-carbon footprint material recovery techniques in existing wastewater treatment plants”. (in a nutshell… it takes wastewater and recovers usable components such as bio-polymers, cellulose, fertilisers and other intermediates). The Ecodek team have developed processes to incorporate cellulose fibres and alternative bio-polymers into different construction profiles for the Smartplant project.
- Fissac “Fostering industrial symbiosis for a sustainable resource intensive industry across the extended construction value chain” (a snapshot of this… it takes waste streams from different industrial processes to use as raw materials in other construction products). As part of the project, Ecodek have developed a process to incorporate recycled truck tyres into profiles. Additionally, several alternative types of waste, particularly “recyclable” polymers, have been optimised to partially, or in some cases completely substitute our own polymer from the process. Ecodek has successfully incorporated different fibre and polymer wastes into construction profiles for the Fissac project.
- GelClad Highly efficient cladding eco-panels with improved nano-insulation properties project. This is to develop a highly insulated external cladding system. Ecodek’s contribution was to develop an external cladding profile, for which we trialled several alternative formulations.
Our onsite lab is used for European projects in solving rheology, material identification & chemical reaction issues when using trial alternatives. Data collected is also submitted to the EU to better help understand the potentials for using recycled polymers and their waste streams.
As part of this research, three ecodek® profiles made with completely substituted “standard” polymer, have been sent to Spain to build test sites. These profiles will be installed onto and around two test buildings where they will be monitored, measured & assessed. Similar tests will also be performed here in the UK to compare climate effects on the final products.
As you can see – Ecodek do more than ‘just manufacture’ WPC materials, we are at the forefront of the future of Wood Polymer Composites.