Aitor Barrio

Job title: Senior researcher 

Company: TECNALIA R&I

Tell us about your education and working life up to now.

My career began with a PhD in Organic Chemistry from The Complutense University of Madrid, following which I got job at TECNALIA Research & Innovation, a private applied research centre in Spain, as a materials research scientist. TECNALIA R&I participates within a number of local and international projects, including European framework programmes. Throughout my working life I have published many scientific papers, presented at countless international conferences and directed a PhD thesis based on the flammability of polyurethanes.

What is your main expertise?

The development of building fire retardant materials. When I first started at TECNALIA R&I I spent three years in the fire laboratory before becoming responsible for the R&D Fire Laboratory.

What is your work focused on in the Rehap project?

I am the project coordinator of Rehap, but my main focus is as research leader in fire developments and characterisation. We are tasked with researching the improvement of fire behaviour in biobased materials for the building sector.

What are the main challenges you face in this work and how are you meeting these challenges?

As project coordinator one of the main challenges is, unsurprisingly, the coordination of the project as a whole, or put more plainly, solving the issues that a big project generates on a daily basis. My main go-to clause in these situations is to be as open and to actively talk and discuss as much as possible with the different partners to try and group together to solve the problems that arise. This not only keeps me from isolating myself in these situations, but it also usually means the problems are resolved more efficiently and effectively.

How do you see your work helping the project achieve its main objectives?

First and foremost my work as coordinator is critical to ensuring the main objectives of the project are achieved. As a researcher working in my specific field of fire, however, the achievements set out for the unique fire objectives will help towards attaining part of the projects main objectives of validating the success of a real scenario – for Rehap that is the construction materials we are developing.

What impact do you see Rehap having in the future?

In my opinion, I can see that the processes optimised and developed during the project have the real potential to be useful for the valorisation of biomass residues not just in the construction industry but for use in different varying applications. On the other hand, the partial or complete substitution of fossil fuel intermediates by the biobased equivalents that are developed during the project, is a lot more complicated to predict. There are many aspects including political and economical for example, that have a strong influence on how they will penetrate the market.

What do you enjoy more about working on a project like Rehap?

Rehap provides me with the opportunity to work collaboratively with a diverse mix of people from other countries and many different companies and research centres. Each individual brings to the table a wide range of expertise from their differing backgrounds. You’re learning something new about the work all the time, plus you’re meeting great new colleagues and friends.

I try and be open and actively talk with different partners to try and solve the problems that arise with trying to coordinate a project"

How would you like to see your work develop after the project ends?

My answer is once again twofold: as project coordinator it would be fantastic if the developments of Rehap really reach the market and can be used not just in the construction industry, but also further afield. As a researcher, I hope to find a good solution to continue improving the products developed during the project for optimum quality.

Meet the other brains behind Rehap