Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action ETN - SUBLime


SUBLime: Sustainable Building Lime Applications via Circular Economy and Biomimetic Approaches.

Lime is one of the earliest industrial commodities known to man and it continues to be one of the essential building blocks of modern Society. The global lime market is anticipated to approach the value of 44 Billion Euros by the end of 2026 and resulting in various growth opportunities for key players. The SUBLime network aims to develop the most advanced technology in lime-based materials modelling and characterization for industrial use that will go beyond the limitations of existing solutions in new construction and conservation in the built heritage.
SUBLime is coordinated by the University of Minho, Portugal, and will run from 1/01/2021 to 31/01/2025. The cross-disciplinary approach throughout the SUBLime value chain, leveraging the knowledge of the academic (6) and industrial members (11), such as lime producers, mortar/plaster/block producers, and end-users for the prioritization of industrial needs, will dramatically increase the transfer of scientific knowledge to the lime-consuming industries in the EU, ensuring their progress on social, environmental and economic aspects, and product understanding.

Project description

The project covers the main features of lime-based applications analysis, including material characterization, numerical non-linear modelling of multiphysics behaviour, functionality and sustainability in lime use and performance-based design. These new developments include capacities such as: self-cleaning, (super-)hydrophobicity, self-healing, enhanced (catalysed) CO2 capture capabilities, and considers closed-loop recycling.
SUBLime will recruit and train fifteen PhD students in multiple scientific and engineering fields towards a better understanding and development of sustainable innovations in both added functionalities and sustainability aspects in lime mortars and plasters, strongly based on novel biomimetic and closed-loop recycling approaches.


These are the objectives of SUBLime:

  • Quantitatively demonstrate the advantages of using lime as an alternative full or partial replacement of cement, in the context of joint/plastering mortars, resulting in reductions of 12% up to 65% of CO2 emission/year in the sector
  • Embrace the zero-waste economy concept through recycling of products and their optimised valorisation which would otherwise be considered as waste. Waste can be viably implemented into mixing of lime-based mortars, following compatibility features of lime, which are wider than those found in cement binders
  • Develop innovative biomimetic lime-based functional building materials with self-cleaning, (super)hydrophobicity and enhanced CO2 capture capabilities
  • Explore the ability of advanced numerical modelling to design new materials and better sustainable solutions
  • Experimentally validate the product performance
  • Assist the European lime-related industries to design new technologies by providing high performance characterization and modelling prediction tools to increase their competitiveness and reduce time to penetrate the market
  • Bring tools of Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and sustainability impact assessment towards engineering practice, allowing practitioners to have information to quantify the advantages of the use of lime
  • Establish a role for lime in the scope of digital fabrication, by developing and evidencing its advantageous features, particularly in the scope of additive manufacturing
  • Help young researchers developing their professional maturity by addressing their scientific/engineering and transversal needs
  • Enable young researchers through their tailored training and regular mobility to “cross-pollinate” industry and academia by creating a multidisciplinary environment
  • Make young researchers acquainted with new innovative characterization techniques to study lime-based functional building materials and exploit them in their future job.

Role of Ghent University

Three research groups of Ghent University are involved in SUBLime: the Magnel-Vandepitte laboratory for structural engineering and building materials, the Centre of Microbial Ecology and Technology and PProGRess (Pore scale processes in Geomaterials research team). They supervise ESR5 (Self-healing in lime based mortars), ESR6 (New possibilities of recycling and new admixtures in lime-based mortar) and ESR10 (3D multi-scale structural characterization and long-term performance related to efflorescence). UGent will also host secondments of ESR9 (Cradle-to-grave sustainability of novel lime-based materials) and ESR 3 (Lime-based mortars and plasters with added functionality: a biomimetic approach). Prof. Nele De Belie is the chair of the Recruitment and Skill Progress Committee. UGent will furthermore contribute to the organization of several training schools.



Prof. Dr. ir. Nele De Belie
Department Structural Engineering and Construction Materials, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture
Phone number: +32 9 2645522