NOVUM – a challenge-driven project
Within the NOVUM project, we have chosen to challenge ourselves across various disciplines in development of novel type of pilot line for manufacturing of electrical insulation components.
Our raw material is cellulose, which is of course abundant, sustainable and already established in the end application under study. However, cellulose is not a common raw material in 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing as it is not inherently thermoplastic. Thus in order to make cellulose suitable for such processing technology, we need to modify the structure of cellulose or use additives in combination with cellulose to introduce the required thermoplastic properties.
The selected processing technologies in NOVUM are the above-mentioned additive manufacturing and additionally two forming technologies: thermoforming and foam forming. These technologies are all established but not necessarily for the selected raw material and certainly not for the end application, electrical insulation components. Thus, a fair amount of technology development has been and is still needed in order to make the three pieces of puzzle fit together.
The third challenge in NOVUM is the demanding end use application, electrical insulation components for power transformers. These components can be complex in shape and must withstand harsh conditions in terms of temperature and mechanical stress for the duration of their whole service life, which can exceed 30 years. The list of requirements and standards is long for these components.
Despite these challenges, the NOVUM project is now approaching its M24 mark with confidence. Cellulose material development has progresses in parallel with the development of the processing technologies. First life cycle, techno-economic and exploitation assessment have been made. In M24, NOVUM will reach its biggest milestone and the partners need to make a decision on the future pilot line concept; will all the three processing technologies be included and what will be the cellulose-based raw material? Stay tuned for more news on the NOVUM pilot line development!
Author : Heli Kangas, Research Team Leader at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, Coordinator of the NOVUM project