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Report In a new series

Report In a new series bioplastics MAGAZINE plans to introduce, in no particular order, research institutes that work on bioplastics, whether it be the synthesis, the analysis, processing or application of bioplastics. The first article introduces the Fraunhofer Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung in Potsdam-Golm, Germany The Fraunhofer Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP (The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research) is one of about 60 Institutes within the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft e.V., a non-profit organization headquartered in Munich, Germany. The institute‘s budget in 2008 was about € 12 million, 30% of which was government funded and 70% acquired from other sources (35% by way of publicly funded research projects and 35% directly from industry projects) Fraunhofer IAP Bead cellulose with porous and smooth surface In the preface to the institute‘s 2008 Annual Report, Professor Hans Peter Fink, director of the institute writes: “We are living in the age of plastics. Polymers are everywhere, found in plastics and in many other applications like fibers and films, foam plastics, synthetic rubber products, varnishes, adhesives, and additives for construction materials, paper, detergents, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. In addition to innovative developments in polymer functional materials, research is now focusing on the sustainability of the polymer industry. Environmentally friendly and energy efficient production processes and the utilisation of bio-based resources, which are not dependent on petroleum, are playing a vital role. The Fraunhofer IAP is well positioned in this regard with its unique competencies in the area of synthetic and bio-based polymers…“ PLA In the area of biopolymers, the Fraunhofer IAP is active in particular in the field of synthesis and material development of bio-based polylactide (PLA) in connection with the establishment of production facilities in Guben (on the German/Polish border). A biopolymer application center is being planned at the site in collaboration with the investor Pyramid Bioplastics Guben GmbH. Here, a project group from IAP will develop PLA grades, blends and composites for different fields of application such as films, fibers, bottles, injection moulded or extruded products and many more. The research and development of blends and copolymers of L- and D-lactides is also part of the planned activities. Further research activities concentrate on naturally synthesized polysaccharides such as cellulose, hemicellulose, starch and chitin, which are available in almost unlimited quantities. The opportunities for using cellulose and starch biopolymers, which have been available in almost unlimited quantities for a long time, are far from being exhausted. One focus of the research and development at the Fraunhofer IAP is on these versatile raw materials. New products and environmentally friendly production methods are being developed at the IAP thanks to the growing amount of knowledge concerning the exploration, characterization and modification of these polymers. 32 bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/09] Vol. 4

Report Cellulose Cellulose is the most frequently occurring biopolymer, and as dissolving pulp it is an important industrial raw material. It is processed into regenerated cellulose products such as fibers, non-wovens, films, sponges and membranes. It can also be processed into versatile cellulose derivatives, thermoplastics, fibers, cigarette filters, adhesives, building additives, bore oils, hygiene products, pharmaceutical components, etc. Composites Cellulose-based man-made fibers (rayon tyre cord yarn) are a serious alternative to short glass fibers for reinforcing even biopolymers such as PLA or PHA. Rayon fibers have advantages over short glass fibers in terms of their low density and abrasiveness. Furthermore, they do not pierce the skin as do glass fibers, which makes them much easier to handle. When rayon fibers are combined with PLA, a completely biobased and biodegradable material is formed. One of the crucial disadvantages of PLA is its low impact strength. In composites, rayon fibers can increase impact strength significantly, as they act as impact modifiers. By reinforcing a polyhydroxyalkonoate (PHA) polymer with cellulose-based spun fibers, biogenic and biodegradable composites were obtained with substantially improved (in some cases double) mechanical properties as compared with the unreinforced matrix material. bioplastics MAGAZINE will publish more comprehensive articles about these findings in future issues. Starch Starch is another indispensable resource with a long tradition. The substance’s many functional properties make it suitable for use in the food sector and for technical applications. Nonfood applications include additives for paper manufacture, construction materials, fiber sizes, adhesives, fermentation, bioplastics, detergents, and cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. 50 40 30 20 10 10 8 6 4 2 Charpy, un-notched [kJ/m²] - 23 °C - 18 °C native 15% 25% 30% Un-notched Charpy impact strenght of rayon reinforced polylactic acid vs. fibert content. Charpy, notched [kJ/m²] - 23 °C - 18 °C native 15% 25% 30% Notched Charpy impact strenght of rayon reinforced polylactid vs. fiber content. Fiber content Fiber content To further their aim of comprehensive utilization of biomass for such materials, scientists at Fraunhofer IAP have developed strong lignin competencies in recent years. They have also investigated the use of sugar beet pulp for polyurethane production. The use and optimization of biotechnology with the aim of directly applying the biomass by extraction and plant material processing is a further focus of Fraunhofer IAP‘s biopolymer research. With its comprehensive expertise in the field of biopolymers and long-standing experience and knowledge of polymer synthesis, the institute is highly qualified to develop products and processes in various areas of biopolymers, ranging from applied basic research in the laboratory to pilot plant operation. - MT SEM micrograph of a cellulose melt blown nonwoven bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/09] Vol. 4 33

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