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Material Application

Material Application News News Food colouring meets bioplastics The GRAFE-Group (Blankenhain,Germany) is an innovative partner to the plastics processing industry. A joint venture between SENSIENT Imaging Technologies GmbH and specialist masterbatch manufacturer Grafe has managed to combine food colouring and bio-based plastics. Environmental awareness and health protection have played an exemplary role within the Grafe-Group for several years. The company markets masterbatches for colouring bioplastics under the brand name “Biocolen”. Combining plastics derived from renewable raw materials with food colourings opens new ways of achieving closed loop recycling. The silica encapsulated colourants (SEC) by Sensient Imaging Technologies provide a technical solution for encapsulating natural food colourings which greatly restricts migration in formulations. Silica was chosen deliberately as this material is present in foods and is approved for food use. The silicate matrix - the protective layer encapsulating the colourings - limits the oxidising effect of oxygen on the dye molecules and improve the colourings’ resistance to solvents, water, pH and environmental influences and minimise migration of the dyes out of the matrix. A wide range of natural and synthetic food colorants is used. The Grafe Group has tested the colourings in different polymers, which has resulted in several colour combinations such as brown, green, orange, yellow, red and violet. “It is not the strongest who survive, but the ones most adaptable to change.” (Charles Darwin) Bioplastic for plastic wrapping film Api Spa (Mussolente, Italy) has over half a century of success in the production of TPE (thermo plastic elastomers) and TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane). For the last 5 years they have used this experience to embark on an important project studying and developing bioplastics. In particular, API have concentrated on research into biodegradability, a property which is shared by all materials in the Apinat range. After perfecting the formulation of Apinat (TPE) for use in injection moulding, extrusion of tubes and profiles, both soft and rigid grades, today new Apinat formulations are being developed which are ideal for plastic wrapping film. The new products may be converted using either blown or cast extrusion. With the new formulation of Apinat it is possible to obtain a film suitable for producing biodegradable plastic shopping bags which can be composted in compliance with both European Standard EN13432 as well as the requirements of Italian law. The advantages which are most immediately derived from these innovative Apinat formulations are: • It is very tough, which makes the bags very durable, even when carrying objects with sharp edges; The complete absence of unpleasant odours: all ingredients which may cause bad smells have been eliminated from the Apinat formulation; • The mechanical properties of Apinat enable the film thickness to be reduced, resulting in numerous advantages including not only a reduction in the cost of raw materials, but also a reduction in the environmental impact because reduced material thickness means faster biodegradation times. Apinat is the answer to the criticisms raised against biodegradable products: “…for the mechanical (extreme fragility) and organoleptic (the unpleasant smell produced) properties, it is very difficult for some industries to use these materials, especially small shops; imagine, for instance, a clothing and fabrics market, ironmongers or a shop selling household goods.” (Mr. Delio Dadola, president of Italian chemical association Unionchimica). 22 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/12] Vol. 7

Material News New machine for additives Laurel BioComposite LLC (Laurel, Nebraska, USA) has purchased an ENTEK E-Max 53mm twin screw extruder as the next step in its multi-tiered strategy to provide injection molders with its new patent-pending Bio-Res. The production-size extruder (~225 kW, 1200 rpm) joins a 25 mm unit in the advanced materials manufacturer’s Minnesota-based pilot plant and offers the capability to produce ~450 kg (1000 lbs) of Bio-Res per hour. The machine’s higher production rate supports ~3,600 tonnes (8,000,000 lbs) annually, 1/6 the projected full-scale (~22,000 tonnes or 48,000,000 lbs.) plant capacity. Bio- Res is a high-performance, cost effective replacement for traditional petroleum-based resins in a variety of manufacturing processes for plastics. Bio-Res is made from distillers grains (i.e. residues of the bio-ethanol production). “Customers want to know that Laurel BioComposite has substantial production capacity available,” says Tim Bearnes, president of the board for Laurel BioComposite. “The addition of the new extruder will allow us to make test articles for customers before the master batch plant is completed.” The extruder enables Bio-Res to cost-effectively raise the renewable or ‘green’ content of plastic products by as much as 40 %. The new biomaterial is available in a pellet form which blends easily with polyethylene, polypropylene, polylactic acid and PHA matrices. Bio-Res pellets are made of 80 % bio-material and sold in master batches. Injection molders can insert the pellets directly into injection molded parts. The material can also be blended with various resins. Superior flow characteristics make the material unique in the bio additives market for thermoplastics. Bio-Res is especially suited for use in a range of industries including shipping, lawn and garden, agriculture and automotive applications. In addition to the material’s green advantages, customertested Bio-Res-based injection molded parts have already demonstrated a 10 % increase in stiffness and tensile modulus over the base resin. New mulch film material With the addition of Ecovio ® F Mulch, BASF (headquartered in Ludwigshafen,Germany) is expanding its line of biodegradable plastic compounds in the form of a grade for use in the manufacture of agricultural films. In contrast to agricultural film made from conventional polyethylene (PE), this film biodegrades. It is no longer necessary for farmers to retrieve the film from the field for disposal or recycling after the harvest. They can simply plow it under along with what remains from the plants. This saves time and reduces costs. Production of the film is also economical, since it can be manufactured at a lighter gauge than conventional PE film without any loss in performance. Moreover, Ecovio F Mulch represents a drop-in solution for the film producer: This resin can be processed on conventional PE extrusion machines without the need to further compound with other components and without extensive modification. Thus the processor can convert his equipment quickly and without great effort. The material is now available in commercial quantities around the world. To test the performance of its resin, BASF conducted comparative investigations with recognized agricultural institutes in Spain and France. These involved growing vegetables in different locations without mulch film, with conventional PE film as well as with Ecovio F Mulch film. The institutes investigated growth and yield in addition to the tear strength of the film. While for this purpose melons and lettuce were planted in France, the institutes in Spain grew tomatoes and peppers. All tests demonstrated that growth and yield do not depend on the type of plastic film. Compared to growing without film, use of film always increased yields by 10 to 20%. bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/12] Vol. 7 23

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