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Homepage Competitive and Sustainable Growth - Making the European Research Area a Reality
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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research themes > Cross-disciplinary themes > Research in a larger Europe
Graphic element Research in a larger Europe
    29-05-2002
 
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As the Newly-Associated States of central and eastern Europe prepare for accession to the European Union, opening some of the major EU research programmes to their institutes and companies allows exchange of knowledge and expertise in the period before they become member states. The Growth Programme in particular has actively encouraged NAS partners to be involved in existing and new projects.

The Research Area grows larger
 

Cooperation between research institutes has long been recognised by the EU as essential to strengthen its performance worldwide. The concept of the European Research Area (ERA) has outlined many ways to achieve it, including networks of excellence, coordinated research programmes and large, targeted research projects undertaken by consortia of companies, universities and research centres.

Bringing the accession candidate countries into the development of European research is vital to the future. The many existing centres of research excellence in the applicant countries have much to offer the member states, and much to gain from them if reinvention and duplication are to be avoided. The candidates for accession to the EU which are associated with the Fifth Framework Programme for RTD (FP5) are known as the Newly-Associated States (NAS). These are: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia.

 
Joining FP5
 

Specific provision for integration of the NAS in research and development has been made under FP5 (1998-2002) in several ways; two of which relate to the Growth Programme and others. First, coordinators of existing projects under a number of the FP5 programmes have been encouraged to seek participation from third countries and their scientific centres.

The FP5 programmes in question include: Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources; Information Society Technology; Competitive and Sustainable Growth; Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, Part A; and Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, Part B: Energy . For more on the calls for proposals of these programmes, see http://www.cordis.lu/inco2/calls/
notice_nas.htm
. A call for proposals to involve new NAS partners in running contracts (NAS-1) was made in September 2001.

Secondly, NAS integration into the ERA is being promoted by the three thematic programmes: Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources; Competitive and Sustainable Growth; and Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development. A specific call for accompanying measures involving the NAS in these three thematic programmes (NAS-2) was also made in September 2001 (OJC 264). Outstanding research centres from the NAS will be encouraged to join forces with centres in the member states, through conferences, twinning, exchange visits and training.

In addition, the International Cooperation Programme (INCO) focuses on specific RTD not covered by the other FP5 programmes. INCO II offers the NAS the opportunity to participate in two accompanying measures. Strategic action on training and excellence gives financial support for high-level researchers from these countries to travel and work in the member states, and to increase scientific collaboration between the accession countries and the existing members. INCO II is also promoting the participation by NAS researchers in networks, concerted actions and conferences, both in the existing member states and the NAS. For details of calls for proposals on both Strategic action and Conference support, see http://www.cordis.lu/inco2/calls/200103.htm

 
Indications of NAS involvement
 

A 2001 review of the NAS-1 call for proposals to join running contracts within the Growth Programme, conducted by DG Research, showed 92 successful proposals out of 108, and funding of € 11,530,128 granted. There were 204 partners in 14 countries, that is, all the NAS plus Ukraine and Yugoslavia (which participate without funding). Out of the retained proposals, by far the greatest proportion (76%) related to RTD projects, while 22% were for thematic networks and 2% for accompanying measures.

 
Assessing the real risk -RIMAP
 

In industrial management, planning for inspection and maintenance is an important part of keeping production processes going, without damage to safety, health, the environment or the economic activity of the company. But it is often based on prescriptive rules and traditional practices, rather than on a real assessment of the risks and decision-making based on that information.

The RIMAP project has set out to develop a European best practice addressing specifically the petrochemical, chemical, steel and power industries, but which can also be applied generically to a wide range of industries. Dr Gjermund Våge of RIMAP coordinator Det Norske Veritas says: "In many cases the old way of doing things which meant inspecting and carrying out maintenance on a set schedule is not necessarily the most economically sound way of working, because the risks may be very low."
RIMAP is being funded under Key Action 1 (KA1) of the Growth Programme - 'Innovative products, process and organisation', and it concerns risk-based inspection and maintenance procedures for European industry. RIMAP consists of an RTD phase, a demonstration phase and recently a new thematic network. The 16 members of the RTD and demonstration phases are largely from industry, and represent France, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, the UK, Ireland and Belgium. The thematic network has 36 members in 15 countries including Hungary, and now some NAS.

The RIMAP RTD phase will examine present practice in inspection and maintenance planning within the four industry sectors, and define a common framework for inspection and maintenance decision-making, using multi-criteria decision logic. The process for assessing the high-risk components will be tested, with a view to determining the overall risk level for the whole plant. After this it should be possible to develop and verify practical plans that will lead to workbooks for each industry sector. Dr Våge would like to see RIMAP providing the technical framework for a European standard in this area.

The RIMAP demonstration phase will test and demonstrate the applicability of the R&TD results to the industries concerned. It will operate closely with the thematic network, which will collect, analyse and disseminate information. Involving the NAS will benefit EU industry as they will contribute different experiences of industry practices in central and Eastern Europe. It will also be invaluable in restructuring their own practices toward the economic, environmental and health protection pressures of accession.

Network coordinator Professor Alexander Jovanovic, of Stuttgart University, feels that input from the NAS will enable adaptation of technologies without the constraints of western infrastructure. "Our technology," he says, " will become more robust and more applicable worldwide through building on the experience of the NAS."

 
Big lorries, narrow streets
 

BESTUFS , working on using best practices to find solutions to the problems of urban freight transport, is a thematic network within KA2 - 'Sustainable mobility and intermodality'. By linking user groups, national, regional and local transport administrations, urban transport experts and interested cities, the network will collect and analyse information and then disseminate recommendations. Running for four years from 2000 to 2003, BESTUFS originally had contractors in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and Switzerland, with members in 7 additional countries: Italy, Belgium, Spain, Greece, Austria, Sweden and France. It now has contracting partners in Hungary and the Czech Republic, plus more members in Estonia, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and another in the Czech Republic.

Network coordinator Dr. Dieter Wild from PTV Planung Transport Verkehr AG in Karlsruhe explains: "We are not just collecting general information; we try to focus on special themes, like how cities imposing fees for road use as is planned in London, Rome and Genova will affect freight operators and private users; also how e-commerce and night deliveries are affecting goods transport." The information and experiences gathered will be invaluable for other cities facing their own problems, and it is anticipated that generic solutions can be developed. BESTUFS will particularly address possibilities for reducing the congestion and pollution associated with city freight. It will contribute to the integration or urban collection and delivery services in door-to-door transport and logistics chains. It should be possible also to develop strategies compatible with town planning to reduce the sheer intensity of goods transport that accompanies economic growth.

The NAS bring a different view of freight transport problems from the situation in the original Western European countries, relating both to the basic infrastructure and also the level of development and the solutions adopted. Key expertise will come from the Czech Transport Research Centre, the independent Transman Consulting for Transport System Management, of Hungary, TRACON Traffic Consultant, of Estonia, the Suchorzewski Konsulting, of Poland, the Slovak Research Institute for Transport and the Road and Traffic Centre of the University of Maribor, Slovenia.

All the information gathered is being analysed by the steering committee with major input from the Swiss partner, Rapp AG Ingenieure+Planer. Its recommendations will be disseminated by thematic workshops, meetings and conferences; plus the internet and newsletters. "The aim," says Dieter Wild, "is to bridge the gap between national information and the use which could be made of it by other countries. It is an extremely good example of how an existing project can gain value for existing members, and also offer a great deal to the new ones."

 
Lightweight but strong
 

POSICOSS concerns the development of new aircraft fuselage structures with a possible weight saving of up to 20%. It is a project under the Growth Programme's KA4 - 'New perspectives in aeronautics'. Led by the German Aerospace Centre in Braunschweig, the project has other contracting members in Germany, Italy, Latvia and two in Israel. It runs for four years from the beginning of 2000. The aim of the project is to study the use of advanced fibre composite materials for aircraft fuselage components. While these materials allow very significant weight saving; extensive research, testing and simulation is needed to establish their performance as part of the aircraft shell.

POSICOSS draws on the resources of both industrial and research partners to examine the behaviour of structures made of fibre composite materials in their post-buckling range. Until now, the normal practice has been to load aeroplanes to the extent that the fuselage materials can flex within their elastic range, i.e. the material recovers its former shape when the load is released. However, fibre composite structures can take a larger load beyond the first buckling, the so-called post-buckling range, often having a reserve capacity of up to 100-300%. In the first part of the post-buckling range, the structure experiences extremely small buckles, which are elastic and the material will still recover without loss of strength.

Testing this sort of behaviour has until now been very time-consuming and costly, and new simulation tools and design procedures are needed. Richard Degenhardt of the German Aerospace Centre says "The POSICOSS project is developing computer software which will simulate the behaviour of materials without testing, and will be at least ten times faster." As well as allowing lighter-weight structures, they will reduce development time, fuel consumption and use of raw materials. The project has assembled all available knowledge and defined the shortcomings of existing software, benchmarks and methods. It will proceed to design fibre composite structures for verification, and successively test, simulate, modify and refine both simulation and design procedures.

The two industrial project partners are concerned with the design and manufacture of real industrial fuselage shells: Agusta Helicopters from Italy and Israel Aircraft Industries . The Polytechnico of Milan , Riga Technical University in Latvia, the Rheinisch Westfälische Technical University in Aachen, the German Aerospace Centre in Braunschweig and the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) are contributing their extensive knowledge on manufacturing, testing or development of simulation tools. "It was important," says Dr Degenhardt, "to include industrial partners with a lot of experience in aerospace."

 
Keeping out the cold
 

Traditional thermal insulation systems are often inadequate for protecting older, historic buildings from degradation. Central and eastern Europe have many old buildings, and efforts to restore them are complicated because exterior insulation is not appropriate, while interior insulation often gives rise to condensation between the layers. Development of newer systems, using new materials to offer insulation and protection from damp, would have other advantages as well. It is important that they should also contribute to energy saving and should not cause damage to historic structures.

INSUMAT is a Growth Programme project under the Generic Activity in 'New materials and their production processes'. It concerns development of insulation materials with specially-designed properties for building renovation. The University of Dresden of Technology is coordinator for the INSUMAT project, running from 2000 for three years. Its partners include the Technical University of Prague, in the Czech Republic, the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Slovak Institute of Construction and Architecture, and commercial partners in Germany, Slovakia, Poland and four more in the Czech Republic.

The project aims to design and develop materials to be used for building insulation, to select the best properties for heat retention, water and water vapour transfer. It will develop and validate modelling and simulation software, and will focus on prevention of damage resulting from these factors. This will involve testing materials under controlled-environment conditions to simulate outside-inside temperature differences of perhaps -10º to +20º, linked with a humidity gradient. Work will focus on two new materials displaying capillary action, the most important property for moisture protection. Rudolf Plagge of the Dresden University of Technology comments: "One of our Czech partners, Calsitherm Silikatbaustoffe GmbH, is particularly involved in developing these new products, which use mortar, mineral wool and a special capillary layer." Later, field tests on real buildings will be carried out using simulation and other techniques.

 
The Research Area grows larger
Joining FP5
Indications of NAS involvement
Assessing the real risk -RIMAP
Big lorries, narrow streets
Lightweight but strong
Keeping out the cold
   

Key data

Programme

Research under many aspects of the Fifth Framework Programme for R&TD (FP5) , including the Competitive and Sustainable Growth Programme, is being expanded to bring in expertise from existing centres of excellence in the Newly Associated States (NAS) . Examples of Growth Programme projects already involving the NAS are drawn from Key Action 1 (KA1: Innovative products, processes and organisation), KA2 (Sustainable mobility and intermodality), KA4 (New perspectives for aeronautics) and one of the Growth Programme's generic research strands (New materials and production).

Projects

Four projects under the various key actions of the Competitive and Sustainable Growth Programme of the Fifth Framework Programme for RTD (FP5) ; starting in 2000 or 2001 and running for between 36 and 48 months. They are:

RIMAP - Risk-based inspection and maintenance procedures for European industry (G1RD-CT-2001-03008);

BESTUFS - Best urban freight solutions (G2RD-CT-1999-10003);

POSICOSS - Improved postbuckling simulation for design of fibre composite stiffened fuselage structures (G4RD-CT-1999-00103);

INSUMAT - Development of insulation materials with specially designed properties for building renovation (G5RD-CT-2000-00197).

     

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