AlmaScience plays a key role in a €4.99 Million project to develop metal-free electronic components

AlmaScience plays a key role in the EU-funded REFORM project, which seeks to become the catalyst for the creation of a green functional electronics supply chain that could replace metal and copper wiring in electronic devices and appliances. The project brings together world-leading academics, non-profit research organizations, industry experts, and innovative businesses from across eight different European countries. 

Researchers working on the €4.99 million project want to replace metal wiring with bio-based conductive inks that can be printed onto recyclable materials and then embedded into devices or placed on surfaces using a de-bondable, organic, and reversible adhesive. The project builds on the advances made in printed electronics in recent years, the market for which is expected to grow to over $19 billion by 2031. 

Lightweight and flexible printed electronics can be integrated into existing products and are predominately used in the automotive and transportation industry, healthcare, consumer electronics, aerospace and defense, construction and architecture, retail and packaging. 

According to Diana Gaspar, project lead at AlmaScience, the company will contribute to the project by developing state-of-the-art sustainable, flexible substrates for printed green functional electronics: 

"Green-printed electronics are essential to bringing connectivity and smartness to everyday objects in the IoT context while dramatically reducing e-waste. However, to achieve these goals, printed electronics must be flexible and scalable within existing industrial production and end-of-life recycling methods. That’s where our expertise with flexible and nature-based substrates comes in, for they provide a solid foundation for such devices and systems."

Diana Gaspar, AlmaScience

The REFORM project, which is being led by an all-female team at Cidetec, a San Sebastian-based R&D company, has the potential to significantly reduce the amount of rare metals used in the fabrication of electronic devices and limit the proliferation of e-waste. 

Project lead Yolanda Alesanco also believes that the project could give Europe an innovation lead in green functional electronics and contribute toward meeting the ambitions laid out in the European Green Deal: 

"Although typical devices contain limited amounts of metals and materials, they are produced on a massive scale. It has been estimated, for example, that there are 16 billion mobile phones in the world. Each one of these devices contains non-renewable materials such as gold, copper, silver, and palladium. 

Often, these metals are embedded in ways that make extracting or recycling them extremely difficult or uneconomic. 

We want to create an alternative means of constructing electronic components to overcome this reality. Instead of using rare metals in devices, we employ sustainable materials such as organic adhesives, bio-based conductive inks, and recyclable flexible substrates. 

If we can achieve this, Europe will take the lead in this space. It will also enhance the continent’s commercial competitiveness and contribute to the ambitions outlined in the European Green Deal."

Yolanda Alesanco, Cidetec

REFORM is a 42-month project and was awarded funding under the European Union’s Horizon Europe program. The immediate outcome of REFORM will be three demonstrators: a green smart logistics tag, a green embedded wireless sensor, and a microsupercapacitor, taking the project from TRL 2/3 to TRL 5. 

To learn more, please visit the project’s website

Funded by the European Union.
Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them. 

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