New research begins into producing carbon fibre from forestry by-products
Carbon fibre, when added to plastic, forms a composite material which is used in wind-turbine blades as well as many other products.

A new project which researches producing carbon fibre from forestry by-products has begun.

Carbon fibre is currently produced from petroleum which is expensive and detrimental to the environment. It is then added to plastic, as it improves its mechanical properties thereby forming a composite material, which is used in many products including automotive parts and wind-turbine blades.

The LIBRE project is led by Dr Maurice Collins of the Stokes Labs, Bernal Institute at University of Limerick (UL) and run in cooperation with European partners from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, UK and Italy.

The research aims to create carbon fibre materials in a cost-effective and more environmentally friendly way, by producing them from a naturally derived wood product called ‘lignin’, Dr Maurice Collins said.

He explained that LIBRE is expected to reduce production costs sufficiently to find mass-market applications for carbon fibre and this will enable European producers to rely less on imported carbon fibre, thereby securing an indigenous and sustainable European carbon-fibre manufacturing base.

Global market of US$80bn

The products are expected to be brought to market within four years, and Irish wind-energy company Eirecomposites and automobile manufacturer Fiat are among the end users for these products.

Irish wind-energy company Eirecomposites and automobile manufacturer Fiat are among the end users for these products, which are expected to be brought to market within four years.

Dr Terry McGrail, director of IComp, the Irish Composites Centre said, “the global market for composite materials in 2016 had a value of around US$80bn with a projected average compound annual growth rate of approximately 7% per annum across diverse sectors ranging from aerospace to automotive and construction.

“This emerging composites market offers many opportunities for Irish companies and the Enterprise Ireland Technology Centre programme is providing industry with a significant level of support through IComp.”

The project has been awarded €4.9m in funding from the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking and was awarded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme.

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Farm Safety Week 2018 to focus on safety goals
Monday marks the start of the sixth annual farm safety week in Ireland and the UK, an initiative organised by the IFA. The message for this year’s campaign is: Your Health. Your Safety. Your Choice.

Farm Safety Week 2018, organised by the IFA, aimed at reducing farm accidents nationwide, is taking a slightly different approach this year.

Rather than focusing on agriculture’s poor safety record and stories of things going wrong, the campaign will highlight stories of when things go right, sharing good practices and demonstrating what "good safety" looks like.

Your Health. Your Safety. Your Choice

Farming continues to have one of the poorest safety records of any sector in Ireland. Last year 24 people lost their lives in farm accidents and 11 people have lost their lives so far in 2018.

Farm Safety Week is supported by a number of agencies, including the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and members of the Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee.

Commenting on the initiative, IFA president Joe Healy said that these “statistics are stark, but statistics don’t tell the whole story – they don’t tell you about the devastating impact a farm fatality has on families and communities; they don’t tell you the impact a farm accident can have on the rest of your life, on your ability to run the farm”.

New IFA farm safety initiative and health and safety appointment

This year the IFA is appointing a farm health and safety executive to implement a pilot farmer-to-farmer peer learning initiative at branch level, to advise farmers about potential risks and educate them to become safety ambassadors within their communities.

The farmers who get involved in the initiative will help to mentor each other by, for example, walking each other’s farms to identify potential risks and visualise how safety works in a real life situation.

This kind of informal learning has been shown to be effective, because the people involved have the potential to adapt the programme to meet their needs and develop their own approaches to improving safety on the farm, according to the association’s president.

Farmers must take responsibility to prioritise safety, especially when working with tractors and machinery, which are the biggest cause of fatal accidents

Under new management

William Shortall has been appointed as IFA health and safety executive to lead farm safety promotion and the new peer-to-peer mentoring initiative.

Shorthall has worked as a regional development officer with the IFA since 2007. He holds a diploma in agricultural engineering and has recently completed a higher diploma in safety, health and welfare at work. He will formally take up the new role on 1 September.

Sharon McGuinness, chief executive of the Health and Safety Authority, believes that “farming is still the most dangerous sector in which to work, although awareness of the issues is high”.

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has commented that "there are a lot of risks in farming, but farming doesn’t have to be a dangerous occupation if you are aware of the risks. We have definitely seen an increased awareness of farm safety, thanks to initiatives like Farm Safety Week”.

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Kerry Group announces milk price for June
Kerry Group is the most recent processor to announce its milk price.

Kerry Group has announced it will be holding its base milk price for June at 29.4c/l excluding VAT.

Lakeland and Glanbia

Lakeland Dairies, the first processor to announce its June milk price, opted to hold its base price at 30.15c/l excluding VAT.

Glanbia Ireland has increased its base milk price to 29.4c/l. Co-op members will also receive a drought support payment of 1c/l.

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