The overall objective of the MULTITEXCO project is to scientifically and technologically characterise the latest achievements in technical textile sector for the development of Guideline and Pre-normative research enabling future standards at EU level aiming at supporting the SMEs involved in the construction sector to fully exploit the new generation of multifunctional technical textiles.
As a matter of fact, in the last decade, advanced textiles materials have been developed as a result of a number of research and innovation projects addressing in particular the construction sector, which represent one of the biggest markets for textile products.
Textile materials are used in construction in both ground and building structures. The retrofitting of existing masonry walls and soil structures is particularly important for earthquake protection of historic buildings and protection of earthworks against landslides. Unreinforced masonry structures are highly vulnerable because being originally designed mainly for gravity loads they often cannot withstand the dynamic horizontal loads in case of strong earthquakes. Soil structures, such as embankments, are subjected to landslides after heavy rainfalls or during earthquakes. Hence the necessity of efficient methods for the retrofitting of existing masonry buildings and earthworks and of related monitoring systems to possibly prevent the structural damage. In textile architectures, technical textiles are used in semi-permanent and temporarily architectural structures such as facades, air domes, large roofs in stadiums, air terminals, airships, sport halls, hangars or stations, air-ships, high altitude platforms, metrological balloons, floating dams.
Examples of advanced textiles for the construction sector comprise fabrics used for the rehabilitation of buildings, providing both strengthening and monitoring functions, geotextiles for the stabilisation and monitoring of soil structures such as railway, roadway embankments or coastal protection structures, high performance technical textiles for tensile structures used for covering large areas such as stadiums or exhibition areas, and textiles used in advanced roofing systems. In all such applications the novel textile materials offer new functionalities in addition and to the main functions of the standard technical textiles. New functionalities include the possibility of monitoring the health of the structure in a way to alert for an impeding failure, self reparability, energy harvesting etc. Embedding sensors of different types into textile materials enables several important advantages. Structural health monitoring (SHM) can be conducted during construction, under in-service conditions, and post tragedy as for instance after an earthquake. Such measurements can be used before an event to take preventive measures as well as after to assess the state of the structure. Measurements over time can be used to track changes in structural performance allowing for maintenance and repair actions when appropriate. However, despite of the above benefits, many building practitioners are unfamiliar with the behaviour and the characteristics of these materials. The lack of
information about the use and the properties of these materials from the design and construction community limits their capability of achieving the highest possible standards in quality assurance and control construction projects.
For these high performance materials, coming both from modification of existing materials or from newly developed high performance textile materials, the current design code or regulation may or may not be applicable: in general new codes or specifications or guidelines for their use or testing procedures are required to be developed for the purpose of design, construction and testing purpose.
Questions such as "Can you qualify the material for a service life of 20 years or more in a harsh environment?" cannot be answered to a full extent.
The aim of MULTITEXCO project is to support the competitiveness of the European SMEs of the construction and of the textile sectors by addressing the above needs and answer such questions by developing testing procedures, guidelines for the design and use, and codes of practices for the novel smart textiles for the construction sector. In particular the following sub-sectors will be targeted by the project: technical textiles for masonry seismic reinforcement, multifunctional textile structures for geotechnical applications and high performance textiles used in tensile structures.
In order to overcome these limitations in the construction sector a group of 5 Associations from 5 different member states tackles these problems by favouring the development and application of a new generation of multifunctional technical textiles for the construction sector. The MULTITEXCO project will address the needs of the SME members of the above mentioned Associations to access to the newly developed smart textiles in a more efficient, effective and profitable way.
The newly developed codes, standards, test methods and specifications will be made available to the SME associations both of the textile and the construction sectors for the distribution to their members and in this way contributing to a wider use of such high performance materials with an impact on the safety and quality of the final products in the above two sectors and an improvement of the knowledge base of the industrial stakeholders.
In order to fully exploit the potentialities of the new generation of advanced technical textiles and smart composites favoring their effective use in the construction sector the MULTITEXCO project aims at the following main Scientific and technological objectives:
1) To develop a knowledge-base able to identify and characterize the performance specifications of existing products and the newly developed knowledge by the RTD performers during extensive scientific characterization laboratory work and tests on the field. In particular this activity will include product application procedures and pre-normative research work to derive guidelines, enabling future standards at the EU level. With this objective in view, the research activities will address the following investigation areas:
- Fiber optic sensors to be embedded in technical textiles for both geotechnical and masonry applications (e.g. POF sensor, FBG sensors etc).
- Flat warp-knitted unidirectional and multiaxial structures used as composite reinforcement having both reinforcing and monitoring capabilities for masonry applications.
- 3D Rope-like textile and 2D Geotextile structures
- Coating for textile membranes to be used in tensile structures
- Test Methods to fully characterize the above mentioned technologies
- Manufacturing and Application procedures: existing technical textiles products and related best practices will be identified.
2) To develop a collaborative web based knowledge platform to be integrated in the project website and to be provided to the SME Associations as proprietary tool. The knowledge based platform will include also some associated tools as for instance a decision support tool enabling the user to select the most suitable solutions and products according to the type of intervention, the specific application scenario, conditions and location and to the cost, providing all the information about application procedures and performances.
3) To perform a detailed LCA and LCCA: a complete Life Cycle Analysis and Life Cycle Cost Analysis will be carried out on the new advanced technical textiles in order to verify the impact on the new technologies on the environment as well as the cost along the life cycle.
4) To provide a scientific basis for norms and standards in the construction sector for the new multifunctional textiles in order to favor the standardization process.
The newly developed procedures, test methods and specifications will be made available to the SME associations both of the textile and the construction sectors for the distribution to their members and in this way contributing to a wider use of such high performance materials with an impact on the safety and quality of the final products in the above two sectors and an improvement of the knowledge base of the industrial stakeholders. A close link with the standardization bodies will be created along the project in order to favour new standards or the modifications of existing ones with the aim to take into account also the new generation of multifunctional textiles and smart composites.