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Almost 1 200 participants from all Member States took part in the first BRITE Technological Days which have been taking place in Brussels this week. The number was far more than expected, reflecting the high level of interest in BRITE shown by European indsutrialists. It has provided a major forum where existing and potential partners in BRITE were able to exchange information and experiences, and where the first results of some 25 projects were presented in public. Opening the BRITE Technological Days, Vice-President Karl-Heinz Narjes stressed the importance of BRITE for encouraging the use of new technologies in the "sunshine" industries (motor vehicles, chemicals, aeronautics, textiles, plastics, furniture, food and drink, etc.). These sectors still make a major contribution to the Community's combined DGD, and account for 25 % of Community employment. BRITE (Basic Research in Industrial Technologies for Europe) has only been running since 1985, and yet it has already been sucessful in creating a climate of close cooperation in industrial technology, and has thus contributed to the development of a genuine common market in the Community. Vice-President Karl-Heinz Narjes also announced that plans were being made for the successor programme (BRITE 2) which should be ready for a Council decision in the second half of 1988. It is expected that BRITE 2 will have a budget of up to 340 million ECU, which is more than twice the amount to be spent in the current programme. Industrial design and manufacturing techniques can no longer be separated from the development and application of new materials. Consequently BRITE 2 will be planned in collaboration with the next EURAM programme on advanced materials. Taken together, there is the prospect of a coordinated successor programme covering industrial technologies and advanced materials with a budget of 500 million ECU. Some examples of research results emerging from BRITE Around 150 projects are currently financed by the Community on a 50:50 cost share basis with industry. About 100 of these have now been running for two years and are now beginning to yield concrete results. The Commission has already given details of some of the earliest results in its press release of 24 September 1987 (IP(87) 389). During the BRITE TECHNOLOGICAL DAYS, results emerging from many more were presented. The following is a sample : New methods to detect faults in reinforced concrete structures With the widespread use of reinforced concrete in a variety of building structures (e.g. motorway bridges), it has become necessary to develop techniques which give plenty of advance warning of incipient structural failure. A project with partners in West Germany, Belgium and Ireland has developed a method which involves embedding optical fibre sensors in the concrete while it is being pre-stressed. The data provided by these sensors is analysed by computer in order to obtain "early warning" of faults. The project has also developed techniques for bridges which already exist, especially those built during the last forty years and which now need careful inspection : the first involves the use of an "exiter" to send vibrations down the bridge. Damage to the concrete causes decreased stiffness and increased energy losses. Electronic sensors pick up the vibrations and a computer analyses the data to determine fault location. Computers have also been used to analyse the sounds emitted by concrete structures in order to detect damage. Development of new high-temperature composite materials In the aerospace industry, among others, there is a need for special materials which can withstand high temperatures (250-300 o C) and which have good mechanical properties (strong, lightweight, resistant to micro- cracking, etc.). Composite materials made by "curing" woven fabrics impegrated with epoxy resins (polymers) have become established as high performance structural materials ; and of the high-temperature resins PMR-15, polymide has been the frontrunner. But there are several drawbacks to polymide-based composites : micro-cracking, high curing temperature, toxicity and brittleness. Four BRITE partners in West Germany and the UK have developed a new polyimide matrix resin with similar high-temperature properties to conventional PMR-15, but with significant improvements : less susceptibility to micro-cracking, less toxic, tougher, and low temperature processability. Biocompatible polymers Partners in the UK and Belgium have developed new bio-compatible and blood-compatible polymers which can be used to make a wide range of medical equipment : artificial hearts, valves and blood vessels ; blood containers ; ophtalmic devices and urinary catheters. This is done by coating the surfaces of ordinary polymers with chemical compounds (e.g. phosphorylcholine) whith mimic the outer surface of red blood cell membranes, (which are biocompatible by definition). This stops the artificial material from absorbing proteins, and from causing blood to clot. These polymers have also been used to coat contact lenses to reduce the level of protein deposites on the surfaces (the characteristic "cloudy" effect often seen on lenses). This prevent vision impairment, discourages bacterial growth and makes the lens comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. Accelerated ageing of plastics using laser Plastic components used both indoors and outdoors are subject to ageing. Sunlight, temperature, oxygen, water, pollutant gases, mechanical stress and biological agents acting alone or in combination can cause the failure of certain plastics. Since the required lifetime of many plastic components often exceeds 10 years, there is a continuing need for accelerated ageing tests on the ever increasing number of new plastics and formulations. Presently, available artificial ageing equipments provide typical acceleration rates of only 2:1 to 5:1. But, the partners in this project (F,I,D,UK) have developed a laser technique which has increased acceleration rates up to 1 500:1 compared to existing techniques, and 300 000 : 1 compared to natural ageing. A variety of plastic and paints are now being tested in different conditions for applications in the car and telecommunications industries. Adhesive Bonding Technology for car manufacture and other engineering applications This project has developed the basic technology necessary to introduce adhesive bonding in vehicle construction and the mechanical engineering industries. Adhesive bonding enables stiff joints which, when subjected to applied loads, produce stresses in the components which are lower than for joints made by other joining techniques. There is potential weight saving in materials, but the application of this technology have been until now largely limited to aircraft construction. The project has involved the computer selection of the latest adhesives and their incorporation into bonding joint design procedure. Basic configurations have been established so as to produce methods for the design of joints, including the surface pretreatment process and adhesive application techniques. This will be followed by assessment of the manufacturing technologies, component assembly methods quality control, and in-service testing. Partners in France and the UK.