We went to a conference on Thursday hosted by Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering (NIACE).
There were around 50 delegates and I'd guess around 15 were from composite companies.
The topic was sustainability so the talk was around:
How to make composites that are fully biodegradable?
How to replace materials like carbon fibre?
Opportunities for biodegradable resins made from crops like sugarcane
Opportunities for plant fibres - hemp, flax, nettle.
How to recycle and reuse composites.
The call was clear - the composites industry want to use plant fibres, many already are but they are imported. They would love to use locally based but the supply chain simply isn't there yet.
One architect there said he was in charge of specifying for a £750m project and wants to source sustainable materials.
Invest NI were there and listening.
The outcome was that a NI Natural Fibre Composite Special Interest Group is being set up which is open to anyone in the industry, then a task force is being appointed to drive the project with the aim of putting the infrastructure in place that will complete the supply chain.
Comment if you want to be involved or even just kept up to date.
Perhaps ours won't be the only field of flax in the area next year!