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Foam Durable and

Foam Durable and eco-friendly foams by Léon Mentink and Jean-Luc Monnet Gaïalene Direction, Roquette Group Lestrem, France The use of bioplastics for the production of flexible and semi-rigid foams is still today very limited. However these foams have extremely diverse applications when they are produced from oil-based plastics. The foams obtained from polyethylene or polypropylene represent a significant share of the volume of foams produced to date on account of their attractive price/performance ratio. Polyolefin foams Flexible and semi-rigid foams are used in very varied fields, and in particular for packaging. They are applied here as protective packaging, separators, chips, display units etc. Building and construction constitutes a second big industrial sector for these foams. They are used to produce thermal or phonic insulation partitions, seals, pipes, etc. They are also used in the automotive, sports and leisure, medical and electronics sectors. Flexible and semi-rigid foams are manufactured using a foaming process in which the polyolefin is melted in an extruder in the presence of a physical or chemical foaming agent. During the process bubbles are created in the molten polymer, which will lead to the formation of foam when the polymer cools down. The process is simple and does not call for pre-expansion or formulation steps, as is the case with polystyrene or polyurethane foams. The properties of these foams can vary according to specific factors and in particular according to the structure, density and diameter of the foam cells, but also and above, according to the inherent properties of the polymer used. Thus the foams enable a great number of needs to be satisfied thanks to their mechanical, insulation and shock absorption properties. Bio-based alternatives known Polyolefin foams have the two main drawbacks of using non-renewable fossil resources and having a fairly high carbon footprint. Work has been done to develop foams from renewable plant-based resources, in particular foams using biodegradable compositions or PLA. Biodegradable foams are used for certain specific markets, for example in the form of chips in water-tight packaging. With PLA, it is also possible to obtain good quality foams, but by using special grades and a specific preparation process. In this case the technology used is more akin to that used for polystyrene foams. Gaïalene plant-based resin for foams The Roquette Group has developed and patented a plantbased resin reference tailored to the production of bio-based foams. It is an addition to the Gaïalene ® range of resins already marketed by Roquette and produced from a non- GMO plant-based resource, widely available in Europe. These resins do not affect food resource availability and enable at 26 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/13] Vol. 8

Foam the same time the production of high-value ingredients for nutrition. Furthermore they have a very favourable environmental profile certified by an independent third party. Their carbon footprint is for example reduced by approximately 65 % compared with polyethylene. ‘’The first converters supplied have confirmed the ease with which our new Gaïalene resin can be worked. It foams readily on existing extrusion equipment for polyolefins. In addition the foams possess excellent mechanical properties, similar to those of polyolefin foams. Our product thus offers many innovation possibilities‘’, explains Jean-Luc Monnet, Roquette’s Business Development Manager. It is possible to obtain foams with densities from 30 to 300kg/m 3 and compatible with a wide range of temperatures. They have excellent properties and are at the same time resilient, flexible, as well as water and grease resistant. It has been demonstrated that they are non-biodegradable and recyclable at the end of life without affecting conventional polyolefin streams. Gaïalene foams already on the market This Gaïalene grade is today used on an industrial scale by various companies for the production of foams, for packaging and general industry. Innovative foams were for instance revealed at the last International Packaging Show 2012 in Paris. The Sapronit company (IVEX Group) is one the first users of the new Gaïalene resin. The company has developed its Move by range of plant based packaging products which have been available since last autumn. Sapronit was rewarded for this innovation by the OSEO Excellence Award in 2012. ‘’The Move by foam enables us to limit our dependence upon oil-based resources thanks to the use of renewable resources. With Move by, our customers can package and sell items with a much lower carbon footprint and thus satisfy an increasing demand from consumers. We now propose this innovation to all our customers. A famous brand of perfume has already chosen Move by for its packaging.’’ comments Jean-Charles Robin, the Chief Executive Officer of Sapronit. With this major innovation, Sapronit is not only targeting the packaging markets, but also the luxury goods, automotive and building industries. The Move by range is marketed in the form of single or multi-layer rolls or sheets that can be shaped according to the needs, by cutting, bonding, rolling or coating. bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/13] Vol. 8 27

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