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01 | 2010

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Cellulosics

Foam www.kaneka.com

Foam www.kaneka.com Bio-Based Biodegradable PHA Foam KANEKA Corporation is a Japanese chemical company which develops, manufactures and sells various chemical products. Kaneka’s business interests are concentrated on seven fields, which are chemicals, functional plastics, foodstuffs products, life science products, electronic products, synthetic fibers and expandable plastics and products. In the expandable plastics and products field, Kaneka deals in particle foamed polystyrene (Kanepearl), polyethylene (Eperan) and polypropylene (Eperan PP) and extruded polystyrene foam boards (Kanelite Foam). In the area of particle polyolefin foams products, Kaneka is one of the major suppliers worldwide with manufacturing locations in Japan, Belgium, Malaysia and China. These products are applied in the production of automotive parts, containers for food, insulation materials etc. As a novel product in Kaneka‘s range of particle foam products and based on their proprietary expansion technology, the company is introducing expanded PHBH (poly 3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3- hydroxyhexanoate). PHBH is an entirely bio-based biodegradable polymer, which originates from edible plant oil (corn-, soybean- or palm oil) or non-edible plant oil. Like other biopolymers from the family of the polyhydroxyalkanoates PHBH is produced by microorganisms in the fermentation process, where it is accumulated in the microorganism’s body for nutrition. It is then collected through a cleaning and granulation process. The main features of PHBH are its excellent biodegradability, combined with a high degree of hydrolysis and heat stability. PHBH can be biodegraded in aerobic (ISO14851), anaerobic (ISO14853, 15985) and compost (ISO14855) conditions. The hydrolysis stability of PHBH is superior to most of the biodegradable polyesters available on the market today. Regarding the heat stability, the Vicat softening point (ASTM D1525, 10N) is about 110°C. Consequently the material can withstand the heat generated by boiling water. Kaneka‘s facility for PHBH resin production, located in Japan, is estimated to be operational in the autumn of 2010, having a capacity of 1000 t/a. Currently PHBH is mainly applied by film, sheet, bottle and injection-molding industries, to which it is supplied as granulates. In the near future, Kaneka is planning to offer PHBH also in the form of expanded foam particles, with an expansion ratio of up to 35 times. Expanded PHBH foam particles have about the same secondary processability as their polyolefin counterparts. Complex shapes can be easily made using steam-chest-molding techniques and can be further treated by sawing, punching and bonding. The mechanical properties and dimensional stability of molded expanded PHBH foam particles are in line with those of expanded polyolefin molded foam particles. Therefore target applications are like for polyolefin foam particles, e.g. containers for a variety of consumer goods, parts for automotive, building insulation, soundproofing and horticultural engineering. Kaneka bio-based foam will ultimately contribute to create a society with a lower carbon footprint, as stated by a company spokesperson. MT 28 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/10] Vol. 5

Foam Heat-Resistant PLA Bead Foam According to Sekisui Plastics Co., Ltd., a large expanded polystyrene (EPS) company headquartered in Osaka, Japan, the company has developed the world‘s first heat-resistant and biomass-based bead foam. This bead foam is made of polylactic acid (PLA) by Sekisui‘s unique manufacturing process which enhances the high-temperature dimensional stability of PLA bead foam and retains specific properties of PLA, such as mechanical strength, solvent resistance and weather resistance. www.sekisuiplastics.com www.unitika.co.jp/terramac For the bead foam Sekisui Plastics uses a heat-resistant foam grade of PLA resin developed by Unitika Ltd. Unitika developed the PLA resin for heat-resistant extruded foam and launched it on the market in January 2005. In Sekisui Plastics’ unique process, the expandable PLA beads have become possible to be more easily moulded and highly crystallised in the final foam products by keeping the crystallinity of the PLA low when expanding. This Bioceller TM , (the Sekisui Plastics trademark for their plant-derived foamed plastic), surpasses EPS and EPP (expanded polypropylene) in dimensional stability. The Bioceller, when expanded 6-fold, changes little in dimension at 150°C. It is excellent in terms of oil resistance, weather resistance, and mechanical properties against compression. Colouring the bead foam is easy. Volatile organic compounds are not emitted by the foam. Since the material is expandable from 6 to 25 times and has excellent mould performance it can be moulded into any shape. This heat-resistant PLA bead foam could be used in any application where EPS or EPP is currently used. However, the main targets would be the following applications (which require more heat-resistance and environmental properties): automotive parts, toys, heat insulators etc. Sekisui Plastics have been developing this material in their research institute. Now they have started marketing, and further technical development, of the material as a company-wide project. Several items using their PLA bead foam are almost ready for market launch. There is also a plan to build a new six hundred ton per year plant depending on the market situation. - MT bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/10] Vol. 5 29

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