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Fiber Applications Melt

Fiber Applications Melt Blown Line (Photo Courtesy Biax-Fiberfilm) Meltblown PLA Nonwovens Two grades of NatureWorks‘ Ingeo PLA resin are now commercially available for the production of meltblown nonwovens, fabrics widely used in such products as wipes and filters. “As interest grows in polymers made from renewable resources, equipment manufacturers, process developers, and researchers have been exploring solutions that offer meltblown nonwoven fabrics that both perform well and achieve a lower carbon footprint than the existing petroleum-based incumbents,” said Robert Green, director of fibers and nonwovens, NatureWorks, at the recent 2009 International Nonwovens Technical Conference (INTC) in Denver, Colorado, USA. Green was referring to meltblown fiber equipment manufacturer Biax-FiberFilm, Greenville, Wisconsin, USA, which earlier this year conducted meltblown tests of Ingeo PLA. Researchers at the University of Tennessee Nonwovens Research Lab (UTNRL) also evaluated Ingeo for its suitability for meltblown fabric substrates using conventional meltblowing equipment. “Our development of an Ingeo meltblown substrate significantly broadens the variety of applications in which this material can be used,” said Doug Brown, president, Biax-FiberFilm. “An Ingeo meltblown nonwoven offers an estimated 30 to 50 percent cost savings over conventional fiber-based nonwoven roll goods and a significant advantage in price stability compared to petroleum-based products.” Brown also noted that mixing the meltblown fiber with wood pulp or viscose greatly enhanced the material’s absorption, making it suitable for a broad range of performance wipes products. In its development work, Biax-FiberFilm demonstrated excellent performance of two Ingeo grades in their meltblown process. The grades 6252D and 6201D each provided broad processing windows and quality fabrics that meet requirements for a range of applications. The high pressure die design unique to Biax FiberFilm meltblown lines allow processing of higher viscosity grades, such as 6201D, offering even higher fabric strength than seen on conventional meltblowing equipment. These recent advances provide the nonwoven market with a full range of Ingeo fabrics that can now be produced with all major fabric forming technologies from spunmelt to conventional carded nonwovens, offering the ability to meet consumers’ convenience needs with an annually renewable low environmental impact material. The attached graphic shows the significant environmental advantage Ingeo offers over conventional petroleum based products. NatureWorks and Biax FiberFilm presented the results of this work in separate sessions at the INTC. Also at the conference, Fiber Innovation Technologies presented a paper on thermal bonding with Ingeo, and the University of Tennessee as well as Oklahoma University reviewed research into Ingeo mulch fabrics and fiber production. MT 10 bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/09] Vol. 4

Fiber Applications New carpet made from PLA fibres PLA Floor Mat A special floor mat available for the fully remodeled third-generation Toyota Prius uses an advanced Ingeo based PLA fiber. Known as the world’s most eco-conscious car, Toyota Prius features world-leading mileage (2.6 L/100 km or 89 Miles per Gallon), a solar powered ventilation system, and environmentally friendly plant-derived plastics for seat cushion foam, cowl side trim, inner and outer scuff plates, and deck trim cover. Now, the new Prius adds to these biobased materials by offering optional floor mats (deluxe type) using an advanced Ingeo fiber system. As a result of reducing the use of fossil resource as much as possible in its manufacturing process from feedstock to factory shipment, Ingeo reduces the fossil fuel use by 65% and cuts by 90% the CO 2 emission when compared to the petroleum-derived nylon resin used in traditional floor mats. By adopting the PLA mat products, Toyota benefits from the unique environmental advantages of a fiber made from plants, not oil. This adoption of new floor mats exemplifies Toyota’s belief that the use of environmentally friendly materials is as equally important as design and product performance. “We have long looked at Japan as an ‘innovation engine’ for our Ingeo business,” noted Marc Verbruggen, NatureWorks CEO. “With Toyota’s latest development, we recognize their achievement in leading the automotive industry’s efforts with excellence in biobased product performance and innovation”. NatureWorks in Japan supplied Ingeo to Toyota Tsusho Corporation, who developed the new environmentally friendly floor mats. Sommer Needlepunch, Baisieux, France, is specialised in floor covering solutions: carpet for events, domestic and contract use and more recently artificial grass. Its more than 50 years of know-how and experience is recognised throughout the world. The care for the environment has always been an important consideration for the company, especially for the issues related to the consumption of raw materials and energy and the development of new products. During the last five years they proved to be a trendsetter in the development of sustainable eco-friendly solutions, believing strongly that economy and ecology can go together. An important investment program made it possible for Sommer Needlepunch to switch almost completely to the use of biobased and recycled raw materials and the plan to supply energy from wind turbines is scheduled to be in place by 2010. The launch of Ecopunch ® , the first carpet collection made from 100% PLA fibres derived from NatureWorks‘Ingeo is a result of the important R&D efforts made in the area of the development of biodegradable products. “Ecopunch is a real natural alternative to the conventional oilbased products that offers the same performance and quality,“ says a press release of Sommer Needlepunch. “This new product is an environmentally friendly carpet as its process reduces the CO 2 emissions by up to 60 % compared to the traditional PP and PA products and extends the economical life time of the raw materials.“- MT bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/09] Vol. 4 11

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