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Biocomposites Alea iacta

Biocomposites Alea iacta est For a new generation of biocomposites The innovative Wood Force technology was developed by Sonae Industria SGPS (Maia, Portugal), a leading wood panel manufacturer. Sonae has 50 years of wood processing experience with 24 plants internationally. The main objective behind Wood Force was to develop an engineered wood fiber dice technology as the leading natural fiber reinforcement solution to substitute glass fiber reinforced compound. A secondary market target is as a replacement for mineral fillers in weight reduction applications for composites. The idea was to develop a mass produced and cost effective, easy and ready to use, reliable and consistent natural fiber technology for the compounding and injection molding industries. The target was the thermoplastic compound market in automotive, packaging, appliance, electronics and consumer markets by manufacturing and supplying locally the same product worldwide to multinational OEMs. The Innovation The innovative Wood Force technology is using the well known MDF industrial process to mass produce refined softwood fibres. Which are then seized with a patented dispersing technology. In the next step the resulting panel is diced for easy gravimetric dosing in the process of thermoplastic extrusion. Thus, a significant reinforcement can be achieved by keeping a high Length/Diameter ratio of the dispersed wood fibre after injection. WoodForce is a significant breakthrough as it delivers on three major requirements to succeed in today’s complex industrial environment: WoodForce delivers superior performance. It is an industrially friendly material, and WoodForce is environmentally fit. Mechanical Properties Independent research institutions have validated the superior mechanical properties of the new material. The end result is an engineered wood fibre delivering great improvements in tensile and flexural performance. WoodForce is compatible with the major polymers, PP and PE, as well as ABS, TPE, PLA and PBS. However, today, performance is no longer strictly about mechanical properties. Industries have to take a holistic view on technology and take into account issues such carbon footprint, end-of-life management, weight reduction... The MDF production process guarantees WoodForce dice are always consistently performing, contaminant-free with stable fibre sizes and have constant moisture content yearround. MDF plants have a very stable wood fibre mix. Timber is historically sourced from a natural wood basket within a 100-150 km radius around the plants. Izod Notched Impact Tensile Modulus 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% Tensile Strength Woodforce Glass Physicals Sustainability 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Recyclability Flexural Strength Flexural Modulus Economics Weight Old Map New Map 12 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/14] Vol. 9

Biocomposites WoodForce: 5mm x 5mm x 3mm pellets of refined wood fibres Enhanced Design WoodForce has a major benefit in relation to pigments and dyes. The result is an enhanced use of colouration that provides significant design opportunities in multiple colours. The colouration of the compound is a built in process to dye the product during the production process. Using automotive applications as an example, WoodForce Black provides a superior finish on moulded parts (hiding the fibre completely) and opens up the potential for use in visible applications. Weight Reduction Wood fibre allows a significant weight reduction of reinforced plastics with equal mechanical properties relative to similar applications with glass or minerals. Wood fibre density is significantly less than that of glass fibre and mineral fillers. At equal mechanical properties, WoodForce reinforced parts or products have a weight reduction potential of up to 15%. Weight reduction is a significant area of strategic importance in automotive applications currently. Easy to use / Ready to use Industrial processing of natural fibre had been a major barrier to mass-market applications. Therefore the product was designed with the compounding industry in mind. It is compatible with existing extrusion equipment, and compatible with global and large-scale industrial operations. The dice are very easy to dose during the extrusion process without complications as it is used with standard dosing equipment and does not require any chopping or preparation. It is easy to meter with good flow ability, so that bio-sourced reinforcement does not result in inefficient compounding operations. WoodForce is currently commercialized in its natural or black colour. It is also available with a standard moisture content (5-10%) as well as pre-dried (less than 2% moisture content) as a ready-to-use product. Renewable and Sustainable The use of WoodForce reduces petroleum consumption, increases the use of renewable resources, helps better manage the carbon cycle, and may contribute to reducing adverse environmental and health impacts. Sonae Indústria recognises and supports forest certification organisations, purchasing FSC as well as PEFC certified wood. The production process consumes far less energy than that of glass fibre production. The wood fibre is sourced locally within 100-150 km of the plants and wood fibre, by its very nature, is a renewable resource capturing and storing CO 2 thus contributing to improve the environment. Thermoplastics reinforced with WoodForce have a far superior recyclability than fibreglass filled compounds. After two cycles, the material retains a much higher level of mechanical properties than glass fibre compounds. At the end of its life, thermoplastic reinforced with wood fibre can be burnt to generate energy. WoodForce is a great partner for bioplastics Significant progress has been made in the development of better performing and cost effective thermoplastics derived from renewable and sustainable vegetable sources. The logical reinforcing partners cannot be the traditional glass fibre solutions. In order to preserve the more favourable carbon footprint profile, bioplastics will need natural fibre partners like WoodForce in order to design a 100% sustainable solution. MT bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/14] Vol. 9 13

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