Econova and South China University of Technology

Econova Group Shot Masthead

UK Partner: Econova World Technologies Ltd.

Econova World Technologies Ltd has developed a unique process to help in the manufacture of such things as internal & external walls, roof tiles, temporary, emergency & garden buildings, fence panels & fence posts and automotive components to name a few. Using 100% recycled waste materials such as polymer, agricultural, bio & textile, it is possible to replicate products normally manufactured in either wood or plastic at lower cost and with mechanical characteristics either similar to or better than equivalent products using conventional raw materials.

www.EcoNovaWorld.com

Chinese Partner: South China University of Technology.

South China University of Technology (SCUT), based in the city of Guangzhou, is one of the leading universities in China.

www.en.scut.edu.cn 

The Challenge

Using Econova’s groundbreaking technology brings together various waste streams that will not normally bond, such as agricultural, bio, textile and polymer, to create new composite materials.

Econova’s unique TC/SC Additive creates a strong bond between these waste elements, many of which would otherwise be destined for landfill or, in the case of agricultural waste, burned in the crop fields causing immense air quality issues. The resulting product replicates many of the characteristics of those made using conventional raw materials but often with considerable savings in production costs leading to lower market prices for the consumer.

Econova World Technologies Ltd has established potential markets in Asia, Africa, Mainland Europe, and North America, for alternatives to conventional window frames using normally non-recyclable waste materials.

They wanted to work collaboratively to:

  • Research the use of waste materials, along with the EcoNova Bonding Agent, to manufacture alternatives to conventional uPVC window frames for the Chinese market.
  • Research the design of these products to ensure they are market compliant in terms of weight, flexibility, strength, UV protection, appearance and tactile qualities, colour and finish choices, ease of use and installation, and lifespan.

The Solution

The Lancaster China Catalyst Team introduced Econova’s Nigel Whitaker, University Liaison Officer & Project Supervisor, and Eddie Witkowski, Project Director, to SCUT’s Professor Meng.

Professor Meng is one of China’s foremost experts in window frame design and not only does he understand many of the inherent problems with existing designs but also, with the help of his team, was able to direct the research in order to overcome current flaws in design and structure.

Cost

Companies pay either £2,000, £5,000, £10,000 in staged payments over two years according to their level of commitment/nature of objectives in China, and go on either one, two, or three trips to China depending on what stages of the Lancaster China Catalyst Programme they wish to engage in. The £5.1 million Lancaster China Catalyst Programme was created by Lancaster University and is part-funded by the Higher Education Funding Council’s Catalyst Fund, the University and Lancashire County Council. Key partners in the project are the Guangdong Provincial Department of Science and Technology, the Chinese Academy of SciencesUK Trade and InvestmentChina-Britain Business Council, and the Technology Strategy Board.

Potential Impact

This collaboration hopes to create a new window frame using waste materials, that is as strong and durable as the very expensive aluminium-core window frames, which represent about 20% of Chinese domestic sales, but at or below the price of the cheaper plastic frames that do not have the aluminium core but represent around 80% of sales.

The cheaper Chinese window frame has a lifespan of only 2-3 years before it begins to lose its integrity and shrinkage causes drafts and many operational difficulties. It is believed that a new composite material, using Econova technology, will not suffer such shrinkage and other damage caused through exposure to the elements. Indeed, instead of a 2-3 year lifespan, it is expected that the new composite will have an operational life of between 10 and 20 years, depending on the local environment. This research is expected to be completed during the first half of 2017, and the first products will enter the Chinese market before the end of 2017.

The new products could reduce the amount of greenhouse gases given off from landfill locations as well as reducing air pollution by reducing the volume of agricultural waste that is disposed of via burning. 

Benefits 

  • Accelerated Econova World Technologies Ltd’s ability to move into the Chinese market
  • Access to local connections in Guangdong
  • Potential Increase in Turnover from new products or services of $4m per annum
  • Potentially create between 10 new products Developed
  • Potentially create over 10 new jobs per annum
  • Significantly boost the skills and employability of the graduate researchers working on the project
  • Reduce the amount of greenhouse gases given off from landfill locations
  • Reduce air pollution by reducing the volume of agricultural waste that is disposed of via burning

Company Feedback

"Econova will, in the near future, begin to see the real and tangible benefits of working closely with Lancaster University in it’s LCCP programme. The contacts and relationships already developed within China are proving extremely beneficial, particularly in understanding the nuances of this enormous market and the standards required of products and services supplied into it.

"The Department of Architecture within SCUT, and in particular it’s Head of Department, Professor Meng, are extremely influential in setting standards for the Chinese domestic window frame market. We believe that, with the help and guidance from SCUT, and the GDST funding which will allow the University to invest in crucial laboratory specification production and test equipment for this project, we will be able to develop the next generation of window frames.

"If we are successful in our research, we will set a new standard that will extend useful life at least three-fold, provide mechanical characteristics similar to that of the most expensive frames currently available and at a cost lower than that of the cheapest frames in China. By achieving these goals we believe we will have a highly commercial product that will be supplied not only throughout China but also the rest of the world," Eddie Witkowski, Commercial Director at Riva Global Ltd.