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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Knowledge transfer pilot for forestry

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EU adopts new rules on fertiliser quality and safety
The new fertiliser rules will cover all types of fertiliser in the EU and will set limits on contaminants such as cadmium.

The EU has adopted new rules for fertiliser products placed on the European market aimed at ensuring their quality and safety.

The regulation harmonises the requirements for fertilisers produced from phosphate minerals and from organic or secondary raw materials. It sets limits for contaminants in fertiliser such as cadmium and outlines labelling requirements.

Cadmium and other fertiliser contaminants can potentially pose a risk to human, animal and plant health as well as the environment.

Rules

Nearly half of the fertilisers on the EU market are not covered by the existing legislation, the 2003 Fertilisers Regulation. Existing rules cover mainly conventional fertilisers, typically extracted from mines or produced chemically while the new regulation will cover all types of fertiliser.

The Romanian Minister of Economy Niculae Badalau, who oversaw the passing of the regulation, said: “These new rules will ensure that only fertilisers that meet high quality and safety EU-wide requirements and standards can be sold freely across the EU.”

Fertilisers which fulfil the new requirements will bear the "CE" marking and benefit from free circulation in the internal market of the EU. Fertilisers that do not bear the CE marking will still have the possibility of placing them on their national market.

The limits for cadmium content in CE-marked phosphate fertilisers will be 60mg/kg.

Organic fertilisers

The regulation should prove a boost to the production and use of phosphate fertilisers with low cadmium content and of organic fertilisers. Minister Badalau said it would provide a greater choice to farmers oriented towards more environmental-friendly agriculture.

The regulations will now be signed and published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Following its publication it will enter into force after 20 days and start applying from three years after that.

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EU to promote bone meal and sludge as fertiliser

New EU fertiliser regulations now in place

Farmer airlifted to hospital following cow attack
The farmer is in hospital following the attack but his condition is not life threatening.

A Cavan man in his 60s was airlifted to hospital following an attack by a cow on a farm in Bailieboro, Co Cavan.

The incident occurred at midday on Tuesday 21 May and the man received “serious injuries”, according to Gardaí.

He is currently in Tallaght University Hospital but his injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

Gardaí and HSA are also investigating the death of a farmer involving a tractor which occurred in Fermoy last week.

Ireland waiting for terms of €50m Brussels beef fund - Varadkar
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday about the Brexit beef fund.

Ireland is waiting to see the terms and conditions of the €50m in funding from Brussels before it decides how the Brexit beef compensation is rolled out to farmers, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday.

Fifty-million euro in exceptional aid is to be provided to beef farmers given the collapse in beef prices in recent months. Ireland “will have to provide matching funding”, Varadkar said. This brings the total fund to €100m.

He added: “We do not yet have the terms and conditions from the Commission, but as soon as we get them we will be able to develop a scheme and ensure that farmers get the money they need as soon as possible.”

However, speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal on Monday this week, EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan said that it will be up to the beef industry and the Department of Agriculture in Ireland to decide how the scheme is rolled out.

It will be a matter for Minister Creed to sit down with the beef sector to work out how it’s going to be paid

“We didn’t launch the inter-service consultation within the Commission yet, which we will launch this week,” Commissioner Hogan said on Monday. "Therefore, it will be a matter for Minister Creed to sit down with the beef sector to work out how it’s going to be paid.”

Once the implementing regulation has been adopted by the Commission, it then has to be voted on by the member states in a management committee. It will be following this committee approval that the Department of Agriculture can devise the scheme.

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Department to decide what farmers are eligible for €100m Brexit fund

Beef sector to decide how €100m Brexit fund will be distributed – Hogan

€100m beef package 'in the next couple of months' – Taoiseach