The Project

a) Overall and specific objectives of NETFIB

NETFIB’s overall aim is to develop the capacity for farmers and other land managers to recover nettle as a fibre crop from marginal land, which would otherwise remain under-used. Within this aim it has four specific objectives, each of which tests a different hypothesis which is linked to a specific work package (WP):

  • Sp Obj1: To test the hypothesis that nettle production under short rotation coppice can reliably produce harvestable nettle biomass to a quality and quantity that is likely to be commercially viable.

  • Sp Obj2: To test the hypothesis that the yield of nettle biomass in agro-forestry systems on marginal land can be enhanced by manipulations of soil and microbes.

  • Sp Obj3: To test the hypothesis that nettle fibre from marginal land sites can effectively substitute existing fibre feedstocks in a range of biocomposites, and create opportunity for new biocomposite products.

  • Sp Obj4: To test the hypothesis that nettle fibre production with short rotation coppice on land being risk managed by phytoremediation has sustainability benefits compared with conventional phyto-management of such land and that the fibre produced has a comparable or better life cycle assessment outcome than existing biofibres like flax from conventional agriculture in the market place.

b) NETFIB responds to the constraint of scarcity of resources by proposing a new source of crop fibres

State of the Art. Studies foresee a strong development of the fibre market from annual plants with an increase estimated at 300% in the next 25 years1. In the automotive sector, the EU could increase its production of bio-based composites by more than 600 000 t in 2020, using 150 000 t of wood fibres and annual plants, as against 150 000 t (using 80 000 t of fibre of wood and annual plants) produced in 20122. In Europe, the main annual plants used in this sector are flax and hemp with a relative share of 64% and 10% of the market, respectively. In Europe, these fibres, because of their mechanical properties, are used as reinforcements in composites, and today represent a market in strong progression3. At the global level, in 2011, the share of composites based on plant fibres reached 2 to 2.5% of all composites.

Nettle (Urtica dioica) fibre is comparable to many existing plant-based fibres in widespread uses. Dreyer et al. (2002) have summarized the development of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.) since 1927 till 2002. According to Tobler-Wolff4 Urtica dioica L. is a perennial, nitrophilous herb widely distributed throughout the temperate regions of the world containing sclerenchymatic fibres in the bark. In the 1940s, 100 tons of pure fibres were extracted mechanically and chemically from nettle stems grown on 150-200 ha of cultivated land in Germany. The fibres were spun to yarn and further processed to woven fabrics in textile quality acceptable for the clothing industry5. The fibre of stinging nettle is remarkable for its tensile strength, fineness, spinning quality, and the fact that its cell walls are unlignified6,7. Investigations on the technical characteristics of nettle fibres showed that they have the potential as reinforcement fibres in composite applications8. Advantages of nettle fibres are low specific mass in combination with high mechanical properties. Studies in biology and agronomy of some selected cultivars of Urtica dioica L. began again in 1992 at the Institute of Applied Botany, University of Hamburg, Germany. In history, cultivation and research on Urtica dioica L. originated from 1927, initiated by Gustav Bredemann, and were a very important activity at the Institute until 1950. After cross-breeding of the phenotypically best wild plants with high fibre content, new varieties called fibre nettle with a high fibre yield were cultivated. The most suitable nettle clones were cultivated in field experiments to gather facts on productivity9. The mechanical properties of nettle fibre are comparable to well established fibres like hemp and flax10. An advantage of nettles is that the fibre bundles can be separated into long single fibre in a much easier way compared to hemp11. The use of nettle fibres for the manufacture of composite materials, although often referred to, has been little exploited.

The economic and ecological reasons for cultivation of stinging nettle are as followsErreur : source de la référence non trouvée

(1) perennial culture with low resource input (fertilizer and pesticides),

(2) production of new, high-quality agricultural raw material,

(3) potential for improving soils over-fertilized with nitrates and phosphates,

(4) extensive cultivation and utilization of a single planting is possible for 10-15 years, and

(5) promotion of population diversity in local flora and fauna.

Experiences in course of the establishment of agro-industrial activities (Germany, Netherlands – 1990`s to early 2000`s) showed that the competiveness of nettle is low compared to other European fibre crops like flax or hemp. Main reasons are the lower fibre content as well the comparable high costs of crop establishment by cuttings. Among others, these have been key work objectives within a German collaborative research project currently coming to its end: “Development of an industrial supply chain from stinging nettle young plants to nettle fibre”. NETFIB partner ATB carried out lab scaled as well accompanied semi-industrial experiments for the processing of nettle straw obtained from new fibre rich clones in close cooperation with collaborators from industry and science. Earlier research results (DBU project reports AZ 06895, 1997 & AZ 11818, 2002) already confirmed the potential of nettle fibres processed by conventional or slightly modified technologies as a raw material for apparel and composite applications. This can be proved as well for new nettle clones in course of the recent project.

A few other recent scientific studies propose the development and characterization of poly lactic acid matrix composites12, or with a polyester matrix reinforced with nettle fibres and wool as well as nettle fibre fabrics13,14. Another application envisaged is using stems mixed with wood particles, for the production of medium-density fibreboard panels15.

NETFIB delivery will concentrate on novel applications of biofibre from nettles for biocomposites. However, the incorporation of these materials requires adaptations of current processes. Fibre resources have different properties and so can be suitable for one application or not. Thus, it is necessary to determine, through an experimental phase, the biomass potential of the project for a given application

c) NETFIB will promote the development of co-cropping phytomanagement strategies for marginal lands

State of the Art. The number of contaminated sites is enormous, with estimates for Europe alone (excluding many diffuse land contamination problems) ranging from 2.5 to 4.5 million sites16,17,18, excluding diffuse contamination problems. In China, diffuse contamination of agricultural land may extend to nearly 20% of farmland thought to be contaminated by trace metals, pesticides and PAHs19. Data concerning areas of diffuse contamination in Europe are harder to find20. However, in many countries, large areas are affected. Three well-known agricultural land examples are large halos around the site of the former Avonmouth smelter in the UK, the Kempen region that is in both Belgium and the Netherlands; and Hauts de France, France. Thousands of km2 of diffuse contamination are suspected in Eastern Europe (e.g. Lithuania) 21. Where diffuse contamination of agricultural land is recognised as a problem, the response may be that it can no longer be used for food production. This land contamination may not only pose risks of harm to human health, water resources and ecosystems by negatively affecting living organisms, but also marginalises land in economic terms, by reducing its productivity, for example removing it from use for crop production.

Over the past 20-30 years, many contaminated sites have been treated and treatment approaches have matured in many countries. The technical consensus is that contaminated land decision-making should be made on the basis of risks to human health and the wider environment22,23. Risk management should also meet sustainable development principles, i.e. sustainable risk based land management, SRBLM and this is increasingly recognised in international practice policy and regulation24 and standards25. For a risk to be present, a source (of hazardous substance or property), a receptor (which could be adversely affected by the contamination) and a pathway (linking the source to the receptor) must be linked. A receptor might be a human, an ecosystem, water resources, a building, or an ecological ‘good or service’ provided by the wider environment. This leads to three broad possibilities for intervention to manage risks:

  1. Source management – removal or immobilisation of the source of the pollution in that linkage, the “source term”;

  2. Pathway management – prevention of the migration of contaminants along pathways (e.g., groundwater flow);

  3. Receptor management – action to prevent receptor access to a pathway. A very common approach here is an “institutional control” such as a prohibition of land use for food production.

Diffuse sources of contamination are where contaminated material has been spread over wide area, for example by atmospheric fallout from a smelter, or activities such as sewage sludge spreading. The S-P-R paradigm is slightly modified in a diffuse contamination context where the source term is intermingled in the pathway (Fig. 1), rather than existing in discrete localised “source terms” such as within a former industrial site or waste disposal area.

Source term removal by excavation may simply be impossible for diffuse contamination problems, because of the sheer volume of material requiring excavation, which also limits the usefulness of conventional in situ or ex situ treatment approaches. The solutions that are available, aside simply from institutional controls, are primarily based on pathway management with potentially a slow source intervention. This source intervention may be either (a) removal over time, for example by biodegradation or removal to biomass; or (b) stabilisation over time, for example within humic materials or onto added immobilisation agents. The principle remediation options used to deliver these effects are phytoremediation that may also be used as a stabilisation approach to immobilise contamination, as well as a containment approach to limit access.


Figure 1. Risk management in a diffuse contamination context.

Consequently, developing integrated responses that can both manage the risks of marginal (contaminated) lands, increase soil quality and biodiversity, and return it to functional use, for example by crop production for the bio-economy26, has major benefits. These benefits include both the risk management and the return of land to use, but also the synergy of providing income that can facilitate land management in the long term, and synergies from a range of wider impacts (discussed below). Not surprisingly research on phytomanagement and fibre has already been taking place for at least 10 years in Europe27,28,29,30 and France31,32,33,34. The aim of this work has been to investigate both the evaluation of the effectiveness of plant-based technologies (considering the mobility of pollutants in soil-plant systems) and also biomass valorisation.

NETFIB’s delivery applies this knowledge base and refines it to consider the potential if a specific and scalable opportunity: the nettle production in SRC systems. Nettle production with short rotation coppice (SRC) seems highly feasible. Indeed, the spontaneous appearance of nettles is prevalent in SRC systems35,36. In field trials set up by the Chrono-environment Laboratory (UBFC-LCE) in 2011, nettle appears as the dominant herbaceous species under poplars (Fig. 2). In addition, and of particular economic interest, investigation of biomass at these sites has found nettle that does not accumulate contaminants (As, Hg and chlorinated compounds). This provides potentially an opportunity for the revitalisation at other INOVYN sites, where similar contamination issues are present. To the other hand nettle is a comparable nitrogen adaptive crop, which might assist the remediation objective of the proposed cultivation system. NETFIB’s work chimes with multiple policy interests of the EU: soils policy, a sustainable bioeconomy, the circular economy and wider conservation goals.

d) NETFIB will deliver sustainability and life cycle assessments

State of the Art. Land restoration for non-food production is an example of “soft” re-use, where the land surface is not sealed, as opposed to build or “hard” re-use. This kind of re-use can offer multiple benefits, for example when linked with public access for restoration and walking, drainage and flood capacity measurement, greenhouse gas mitigation, ecological gains and many others. Low input, “gentle” remediation approaches are particularly well matched to soft re-use of land37. Well-designed phytomanagement projects also have potential to link with amenity use (footpaths) and a wide range of wider sustainability gains (e.g. from value uplift of surrounding land, particularly where this land connects with housing. The wider sustainability gains from this “soft” re-use of polluted land are becoming better understood38, with sustainability assessment and stakeholder engagement approaches for brownfields rehabilitation pioneered by the FP7 HOMBRE39 and GREENLAND Projects40.

As well as the delivery of value for marginal land, there are wider opportunities from the delivery of NETFIB fibre to biocomposite markets in terms of life cycle gains. The cultivation of nettle crop on marginal land could bring ecological advantages compared to crop production in conventional agriculture. Barth & Carus41 analysed in a cradle-to-gate scenario the GWP (global warming potential) per tonne natural fiber (flax, hemp and jute, which is processable to needle felts and afterwards to compression-molded composites for interior automotive applications) regarding field operations, seed production, fertilizer production, release of fertilizer-induced N2O-emissions, pesticide production, transportation from field to processing facility, transportation from Asia to Europe, and transportation to technical textile producer in Europe. In the life cycle assessments (LCA) of all four fibre types, fertilizer production had the highest impact of all the stages in relation to the GWP. Flax fiber production releases higher amounts of greenhouse gas emissions during field production and the production of pesticides in comparison with the three other fiber types. Assuming a reduced field operation for nettle, a low amount of fertilizer and the absence of pesticides and herbicides should result in a low GWP of nettle cultivated on marginal land.

NETFIB’s delivery encompasses stakeholder engagement, sustainability assessments and life cycle assessment to gain a deeper understanding of the potential wider benefits and synergies of nettle fibre production on marginal land both in the management context and as part of the biocomposite value chain. For example, nettle and poplar are important native species food sources for a large number of species supporting a parallel biodiversity gain. Nettles are important early colonisers of disturbed soil and have major benefits for improving soil function and quality over time. In particular, a perennial herbaceous crop like nettle is able to self-propagate by a well-developed rhizome root system. Both the loosening of soil due to its penetration with roots as well a comparable vast nutrient demand assists the mentioned effect on disturbed sites. Careful selection of native species (e.g. nettles) can create significant habitat development and wildlife refuge opportunities.

The possible wider beneficial aspects of this kind of cropping system have never been investigated in the context of ISO 18504:2017. The potential linkage of risk management, fibre production and wider sustainability benefits may mobilise a wider Public and Private Sector investment case than has previously been the case. NETFIB will assess sustainability of the addition of nettle cropping to SRC phytomanagement at four sites, using scenarios and baselines agreed as realistic with the local stakeholders42.


Figure 2: Experimental sites showing the spontaneous appearance of nettle under poplar cropping system. The site at Fresnes was contaminated by dredged sediments taken from the adjacent channel; the site at Saint-Symphorien-sur-Saône is a chlor-alkali site belonging to INOVYN.

NETFIB relates to (III) “Improvement of resource-use efficiency of crops and cropping systems” of the SusCrop call and goal 12 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), achieving the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources43. Moreover, the sustainable management of degraded land can also support a far wider range of SDGs44. At a fundamental level, land is a non-renewable resource, and land take in Europe is under a range of pressures for urban functions, food production, and increasingly non-food production. NETFIB’s strategy is fully in line with the August 2018 EEA Report which pointed out the close synergies that should be sought between the circular economy and the biobased economy ( NETFIB’s scope not only anticipates these synergies, it extends them to include land rehabilitation and its consequent sustainablity gains as well.

It has been recognised for some time that agricultural practices increasingly need to meet competing demands for production for food, and production for non-food (energy, feedstock, fibre). For example, as far back as 2008 a European Environment Agency Scientific Committee questioned the sustainability of existing European Union (EU) commitments to biofuels, and suggested that the EU target to increase the share of biofuels used in transport to 10 percent by 2020 should therefore be suspended45. Diversion of crops for biofuels has now been directly attributed as a partial cause of the spike in food prices over 2007-846.

NETFIB is predicated on the view that the growing demand for non-food crop production should as far as possible be met by land and resources that are less suitable for food production and do not encroach on natural habitats. In terms of scale, the best opportunity for this non-food production to be preferentially sited on contaminated land that is either already in agricultural use, or can be readily taken over by farming. This approach also brings with it a wide range of wider sustainability benefits as discussed above. In particular it is a clear opportunity for agricultural production in areas which might otherwise be economically marginalised, and is consistent with using the best quality available land and resources for food production in line with likely consumer preferences and helps to address some of the concerns about the potential for non-food production land take from virgin / wilderness land.

This NETFIB approach directly supports i) the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) objective of balanced territorial development, by supporting diversification enabling the potential of areas economically marginalised by diffuse contamination to be “unlocked”; and ii) the future CAP objective of sustainable management of natural resources by the enhancement of the use of secondary resources and optimisation of land use. It indirectly supports the CAP objective of viable food production by supporting the use of higher-grade resources for food production. Hence the NETFIB project is in line with all three objectives to 2020 of the future CAP47.

The intention of this approach is to assist farmers in achieving a sustainable diversification and intensification of non-food cop productions, centred in the specific opportunity of nettle biofibre. The scale of land-take for non-food production could be very large. While, using marginal contaminated land may not meet this demand, but in some regions could be a major opportunity, which brings a range of wider benefits with it. This synergy may provide a good level of leverage for public and private investment in farm projects. In addition, NETFIB will increase awareness and the agronomic practices exchange among actors involved on growing industrial crops such as poplar and nettle. NETFIB aims to select suitable nettle cultivars for different types of contaminated lands. The project will extend across disciplines, organisations, sectors and countries, and will strengthen the connections among actors through the delivery of a series of information that are needed for understanding and assessing the potential exploitation of nettle-poplar co-culture through the adoption of a set of sustainable agronomic practices.

The on-field experience on the exploitation of nettle production and harvest in NETFIB living labs will allow users to match marginal lands to 1) profitable biomass production by diversifying and increasing farmers revenues through access to new markets and 2) the delivery of positive externalities (such as water and biodiversity-based ecosystem services). This will contribute to the above by providing:

  • farmers with a two-way information channel to create a best practice guide for growing sustainably nettle on poplar plantations and allowing them to feedback data;

  • industry with an estimation of the feedstock availability and quality which is crucial for the setup of a viable value chain;

  • policy makers and stakeholders with information on the potential for nettle production on contaminated and marginal land to produce public goods (e.g. ecosystem services such as water purification, phytoremediation or biodiversity conservation).

Concerning the improvement of agronomic practices, NETFIB aims to decrease the reliance of nettle production to fossil fuel-based inputs (e.g. pesticides, chemical fertilisers, energy and water). The setup of resource-efficient cropping systems will allow the cultivation of optimal nettle cultivar associated with appropriate amendments in a given environment while minimizing the use of agricultural inputs. The responses of different nettle cultivars to different marginal lands are still largely unexplored. NETFIB will reduce the knowledge gap by investigating the behaviour of different nettle cultivars under marginal conditions through (i) pot experiments, aimed at assessing the photosynthesis efficiency and crop productivity and (ii) comparative on-farm field trials, aimed at evaluating productivity and ecosystem services supply in response to different marginal conditions.

Furthermore, the implementation of results from this project on biocomposites produced from cellulosic fibres of nettle into the data management platform Dat@OSU along with those from previous projects on fibre-related biocomposites will allow to assess the potential of NETFIB-based cropping systems under a wide range of nettle cultivar x environment x end-product. This will support the design of:

  • management schemes for improving the delivery of ecosystem services;

  • best practice guides to maximize the gross contribution margin from nettle on poplar plantations on marginal lands.

A multi-actor approach will be used to ensure that the data on nettle yield and quality, database on ecosystem services and tools at farm- and industrial level being developed are comprehensive, accessible and meet the needs of the end-users.

NETFIB also relates to SusCrop topic (IV) “IV. Systemic research on agricultural crops as part of an ecosystem including interactions between plants and other organisms (“the plant as a meta-organism”)”. The NETFIB consortium will implement research activities to characterize microbial (fungi and bacteria) and entomofauna communities that may directly impact the productivity of nettle on marginal lands.

NETFIB will further take a range of measures to extend its impact and support upscaling and replication of nettle biofibre production in marginal land within WP6.

At a local project level WP6 will undertake an initial investment appraisal with its industrial partners, and the local stakeholders engaged through WP4, to investigate the feasibility of moving to production scale at each of its test sites. In this process, for each site, NETFIB will set out a road-map for further development identifying actions and actors and a potential timeline. In each road map will be a series of decision gates where the viability of next stages will be determined. In addition, an initial overall “vision” or concept will be made for each site using the “Pitch Deck” format suggested by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT). A similar pathway will be followed in considering the overall next steps for the NETFIB project and its linkage to related European initiatives such as the EIT strand on “raw materials”, and the on-going projects listed in section 3 below.

NETFIB will be pro-active in its engagement of the wider scientific, technical and practitioner communities who might benefit from its findings, as described in Section 3 below.

NETFIB will support an open access policy for its data wherever possible to facilitate its wider use and wider value. All public data issued from NETFIB will also be referenced and promoted at international, European levels through the data management platform Dat@OSU (, as detailed in the data management plan attached.

For wider outreach, NETFIB partners also participate actively in events such as the emblematic “Nuit des Chercheurs” and “Fête de la Science”. Experiments and projects are regularly presented in different events such as the experimentarium of UBFC, Pint of Science, the European researcher Night (Brussels), the festival des Spores (France), and CELC in Paris ( as well as EIHA in Cologne (

NETFIB is a collaborative project between academic researchers, SMEs, solution providers and industry. Its results will be cross-disciplinary knowledge applied research, supporting a synergy between the delivery of renewable biofeedstocks on non-food producing land and phytomanagement for the restoration of marginal lands and their ecosystem services, and with a wide range of additional sustainability gains. Some of these wider sustainability gains (e.g. conservation refuge, public amenity, land value uplift and others) may play an important role in public investment interest or public subsidy support. The diversity of the NETFIB consortium, described below, reflects this cross / multi-disciplinary context.

There are a number of European initiatives on the management of marginal lands: The major on-going projects in that area are listed below.

  • the INTERREG project PHYTOSUDOE48, which main objective is the management of degraded environments and their restoration by means of applying novel phytoremediation techniques (ending 10/2018)

  • the FACCE SURPLUS project INTENSE49, which combines cropping and soil amendment experiments, experimental biomass conversion to energy

  • the FACCE SURPLUS project MISCOMAR50, which aims at develop techniques for biomass production on marginal land and further conversion of the biomass to biofuels

  • in addition to the past FP7-KBBE GREENLANDErreur : source de la référence non trouvée and FP7-HOMBREErreur : source de la référence non trouvée projects.

Also, there are two major on-going European projects on cropping fibre plants:

  • the BBI project GRACE51 (GRowing Advanced industrial Crops on marginal lands for biorEfineries – BBI-IA-DEMO n. 745012) (2017-2021)

  • the BBI project SSUCHY52 (Sustainable structural and multifunctional biocomposites from hybrid natural fibres and bio-based polymers – BBI-IA-DEMO n. 744349) (2017-2021)

  • in addition to the past FP7-KBBE MULTIHEMPP53 and FIBRA54 projects.

However, none of these major initiatives however is addressing the challenge of producing fibre plants on marginal lands. To the knowledge of the partners, no data are available in the literature concerning nettles produced in an agro-forestry context. Research on the cultivation, processing and utilization of nettle as an agricultural crop has been very limited in past years. Relatively few results are published related to nettle biomass use in Europe. Those which are available indicate both the potential ability to produce the biomass and useful properties of the resulting fibres55,56,57. Application relevant projects mainly focused on production or the reinforcement of plastic composites (FAIR-ST-8356, FAIR-CT98-9615, DBU Az 06895) or textiles (DBU Az 11818). Thus, the herein proposed research activities are dedicated to enhance the level and depth of knowledge related to another natural fibre resource beside known flax and hemp. The close interdisciplinary cooperation of leading research groups as well scientific networks they are part of will allow a wide distribution of NETFIB’s results and findings.

NETFIB will provide authoritative research outcomes and practical benefits, greatly assisted by the consortium’s long standing experience in their respective roles. NETFIB will cement the impact of its dissemination activities by preparing and publishing formal report and scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals. The results will be promoted through publications in technical and scientific journals and communications at national and international conferences. The partners publish regularly the results of their research activities in the field of microbiology, phytomanagement and material sciences in scientific journals. Special efforts will be made to publish in interdisciplinary papers. These will ensure that NETFIB will have a long-lasting impact beyond the project duration.

The research fields considered in NETFIB are therefore agronomy and ecological sciences (through measurements of the impact of phytomanagement on the biodiversity of restored environments), engineering sciences (soil engineering, ecological engineering and process engineering through restoration work and biomass valorisation). The industrial fields are related to the fibre industry and the management of lands (industrial site owners, environmental management and engineering). Cropping activities are also involved at various steps of the plant production (soil conditioning, plant cropping, plant harvest). Partner UBFC-LCE is actively cooperating with the School of Horticulture and Landscape, Roville aux Chênes, in France, for the production of nettle crop. The cropping activities are usually being sub-contracted to local farmers.

The alignment of research and innovation to public and private stakeholders’ needs will allow for economical reward to innovators, and encourage further investment and innovation. Further, for practitioners the use of best available techniques will optimize resource use and allow cost-savings in resource allocation. The markets that NETFIB will impact are those related to land degradation, waste management, increasing biodiversity and biological activity, reducing the impact of pollutants on ecosystem health, increasing soil quality and reducing the risks of toxicity; and those markets related to the application of these methodologies (including plant sale, agronomic consultancy, monitoring expertise). The potential market size of such market is vast. The estimated potential market for biobased fibres / biobased composites in the European automotive sector could increase its production by more than 600 000 t in 2020, using 150 000 t of wood fibres and annual plants. Land remediation is both a response to a significant European and global challenge, and also a substantial area of economic activity, estimated as €3bn per annum in Europe and worldwide at $65 bn pa.

Management of the project will be ensured by the UBFC partner, with Professor M. CHALOT from the Chrono-environment laboratory. Michel CHALOT (Researcher ID A-1113-2012; Publications: 102 (2018), H factor = 33) Professor « First class » and head of the “Ecosystem Contaminant Santé” department (130 members) of the laboratory “Chrono-environnement” (LCE) and has more than 25 years of research experience in the fields of phytomanagement, microbial and plant physiology. Within the past 20 years, he has been supervising 40 master, 24 Ph-D and 12 post-doc students. He has developed an extended network of collaborations between different European and French academic laboratories. He is fully involved in industrial networking, and has received the 2012 Prize winner of NICOLE (Network of Industrially Contaminated Land in Europe for Innovative Technology) for the PIT project. He has the following responsibilities in recent scientific programs (in parenthesis: industrial partners):

  • 2017-2020 Partner of the ADEME-GRAINE-PHYTOFIBER project (industrial partner: UNILIN)

  • 2013-2018 Leader of the ADEME PROLIPHYT project (industrial partner: Soupe nursery)

  • 2013-2018 Leader of the ANR PHYTOCHEM project (industrial partners: Soupe nursery, Cristal)

  • 2014-2016 Leader of the CNRS Ec2CO FREIDI project

  • 2012-2017 Partner of the ADEME SILPHES (AMI) project (industrial partner: Solvay): Dendrochemistry and phytoscreening on chlor-alkali plant.

  • 2010-2014 Leader of the International ANR BIOFILTREE project (industrial partners: Agronutrition, Solvay)

  • 2010-2014 Leader of the International ADEME PIT project: Dendrochemistry and phytoscreening on various contaminated sites.

The research activities of the LCE, M. Chalot and his team have laid the foundations for fundamental research, some of which deserve to be transposed and valued in the industrial sector. In NETFIB, UBFC-LCE will be involved in: i) the implementation of demonstration field trials with nettle and poplar, ii) collect data on the field trials and iii) applying its environmental monitoring tools (metabarcoding approaches).

The research work within NETFIB on behalf of the department of Applied Mechanics of FEMTO-ST will be carried out within the T2DC team “Damage Tolerance and Durability of (Bio) Composites” directed by Dr. Ing. Vincent PLACET. Within the last ten years, Vincent Placet has been involved in 20 research projects publically funded (H2020, ANR, Labex ACTION, Région Franche-Comté…) or granted by private companies (ALSTOM Transport, AIRBUS Helicopter, SNECMA…). He is the coordinator of the SSUCHY project (Sustainable structural and multifunctional biocomposites from hybrid natural fibres and bio-based polymers) funded under H2020-EU.3.2.6. – Bio-based Industries Joint Technology Initiative (17 partners, budget: 7.41 M€, 2017-2021) Vincent Placet has authored and co-authored 30 papers in international peer-review journals, 3 patents, 70 papers in international and national conferences proceedings. In 2015, he was also awarded “Daniel Valentin Price” by AMAC, the French association for composite materials. His main research interests are thermo-hygro-mechanical behavior of wooden materials and plant fibres, long-term durability, fatigue tolerance and health monitoring of composite materials and structures. Research activities within his team aim at facilitating the development of innovative composite solutions in high-technology sectors. The team is composed of 6 staff members (1 full professor, 4 associate professors and 1 research engineer), 3 post-doc researchers and 6 PhD students. In NETFIB, UBFC-FEMTO, will be involved in WP3. UBFC-FEMTO ‘s expertise and equipment will allow to characterize the physical and mechanical properties of nettle fibres and their composites.

Partner 2. Wholly owned by INEOS, one of the world’s largest chemicals companies. INOVYN manufactures a wide range of chemicals that are used as raw materials in almost every industrial process. The portfolio is organised across five key product groups – organic chlorine derivatives; chlor alkali; general purpose vinyls; specialty vinyls; and technologies. Protecting safety, health and the environment is a core guiding principle at INOVYN. Like many of the actor in chemical Industry, INOVYN has to face environmental liabilities at its sites where activities have been operating more than 100 years now. Dr Ing. David CAZAUX is the Group Environmental Remediation Manager at INOVYN in charge of the technical and regulatory support of 18 sites in Europe. He has long-standing expertise in soil and groundwater remediation and R&D projects and will be thus the INOVYN contact for the different field trials implemented in Europe. He’s managing environmental liabilities and provisions of 18 sites in western Europe (UK, Norway, Sweden, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain). Expert managing all aspects from inception through validation of remediation project and served in that role until 2016. Member of the French branch of CEFIC and also involved in National and European Research programs related to contaminated land, Dr CAZAUX has been recently appointed expert intuitu personæ at the High Council for Technological Risk Prevention of the French Ministry of Environment.

Partner 3. Dr Damien BLAUDEZ (UL), professor assistant, has more than 20 years of experience in the study of plant-microbe interactions. He has been involved in several ANR projects based on the phytoremediation of metal-polluted soils by trees and associated mycorrhizal/endophytic fungi. He is also the PI at UL of the LORVER project (Lorraine county/FEDER) aiming at the production of non-food crops (poplar, hemp, nettle) on marginal lands. The major contribution of UL will be in WP1 and WP2 where he will undertake microbiome analyses of root and shoot endophytes, relating to the soil type, nettle genotype, and co-culture with poplar and to identify components able to influence important traits such as nutrient cycling, plant growth promotion, and plant stress tolerance.

Partner 4. Prof Stefano AMADUCCI leads the Field Crop Research group in the Department of Sustainable Crop Production of UCSC. He has participated in numerous National and European project dealing with biomass and fibres crops. In particular he was coordinator of the Multihemp Project53 (2012-2017 FP7 8M€ budget) and he is at the moment involved in the SSUCHY52 and GRACE51 BBI-projects. The Field Crop Research group focusses on ecosystem services delivery with conservative agriculture and perennial biomass crops and the effect of abiotic stress on crop physiology and resource use efficiency. We have set up an innovative high- throughput multi-chamber system that will be used in NETFIB to study the crop physiology of nettle cultivated in agroforestry on contaminated soil. In the frame of the NETFIB project, the Field Crops Research Group of UCSC will be mainly involved into two WPs. In WP1, UCSC, together with other project partners INOVYN, LCE, UL and ATB, will study the production of nettle in agro-forestry systems, within a poplar-phytomanaged plantation, aiming at lowering the impact of degradation of polluted sites while maximazing ecosystem services. The objective of the production of the industrial plant nettle will be addressed by using existing polluted sites, by implementing a living lab in Tavazzano (Italy).

Partner 5. Prof Paul BARDOS (R3E) Prof Paul Bardos (PB) is an international authority on risk assessment and risk management, remediation option appraisal, technical approaches to remediation, sustainable and “green” remediation, low input approaches; and is currently co-chair of the UK’s sustainable remediation forum (SuRF-UK: He is Adjunct He also has work outside the University (Managing Director of r3 environmental technology ltd, retained expert for the European Commission and international consultant for the Foreign Economic Cooperation Office (FECO) of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), China. He is an Adjunct Professor at the School of Environment and Technology at University of Brighton and a visiting Professor at the University of Reading. He was one of the major contributors to ISO 18504:2017 Soil Quality—Sustainable Remediation. Since 2016 he has been collaborating with members of the SURF-Japan on their development of sustainability assessment approaches, and will be supporting the sustainability assessment of option appraisal for some 20 million tonnes of stockpiled caesium contaminated soil in the Fukushima area.

Partner 6. Relevant activities in regard to the transformation of nettle biomass from cultivation to intermediates and final products in particular will be carried out by the research group on “natural fibre technologies” at ATB’s Department for Postharvest Technology. Complemented by selected methods and equipment on laboratory level the research group led by Dr. Hans-Jörg Gusovius enables a broad range of experience and excellence in this field resulting from 20 years of national and international (e.g. EU-FP7 “MultiHemp” 53) cooperation projects. ATB`s expertise and pilot sized equipment will allow to investigate the supply of- dry/retted stem biomass and its transformation in the intermediates fibres and shives by decortication suitable for composite applications or panels, Further equipment allows a whole crop processing of wet preserved raw materials. In close cooperation with HSB, accompanying lab-based activities will include scientific investigations of the decortability of nettle biomass as well as cleaning and refining.

Partner 7. Dr. Markus PUSCHENREITER (BOKU) has 20 years of experience in unravelling plant-soil-interactions, focusing in particular on root-induced changes of soil quality indicators, root exudates, trace element mobility in the rhizosphere and nutrient acquisition by roots. Furthermore, he significantly contributed to the development of phytoremediation and phytomining technologies as well as general phytomanagement strategies for marginal land. In this context, he coordinated the FP7 project GREENLAND39 (2011-2014). BOKU will contribute to WP1 and WP2, assessing the effect of phytomanagement on lowering the impact of soil degradation and increasing ecosystem services, in particular on soil functions and quality.

Partner 8. Professor Dr.-Ing. Jörg MÜSSIG (HSB) has more than 20 years of research experience in the field of natural fibres and biobased materials. His research group “The Biological Materials Group” is working on topics all around bio-inspired and bio-based composites and the value-added chain of natural fibres. Therefore, the group focuses on the relation of structure and properties for the development of sustainable materials, biomimetics and natural fibre-reinforced composites. Professor MÜSSIG was involved or leader of numerous national and international research activities concerning natural fibre processing and quality control along the complete value-added chain from crop to the technical product. He will mostly contribute to WP3 (WP leader) by implementing lab-scaled research on processing of nettle, quality of fibres and of the thermoplastic-based nettle-reinforced composites. He will also support R3E since he is recently involved in the research project “Integration of environmental indicators of biobased materials in the planning and design processes of industrial products – Methodology and Tools” (Biomat-LCA, 2017) with the aim of developing an uniform recommendations for the LCAs of natural fibres.

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