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Issue 01/2016

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Automotive Foam Basics: Public Procurement

Foam PLA foam expanding

Foam PLA foam expanding into new areas By: Sarah Heine, CEO Biopolymer Network Rotorua, New Zealand The Biopolymer Network Limited (BPN) team from Rotorua, New Zealand, who developed Zealafoam ® , a PLA based alternative to expanded polystyrene (EPS), continues to develop new opportunities for bio-based foam. Leveraging off their patented process which uses CO 2 as a green blowing agent to produce low density particle PLA foam, BPN has developed a variety of prototypes of varying shape and dimension. These include cups, films or other articles depending on the target application. PLA foamed cups have been developed to target the growing demand for bio-based disposable cups for both hot and cold beverages. The foaming process increases the glass transition temperature (T g ) and/or crystallinity of the PLA, depending on the grade of PLA used, resulting in better thermal stability than non-foamed PLA cups. Thermal conductivity measurements show that the foamed cups have good insulation properties, while mechanical testing indicates the prototypes have good impact resistant properties. While work is ongoing to target hot beverage applications, the current technology is ideal for cold beverages. Similarly, the team has created a thin PLA foamed film using this process. Currently there is interest from industry in the use of PLA film for packaging and labelling applications. Printing on clear PLA film can however prove a challenge, with a white base coat required prior to printing. The BPN process results in an opaque, smooth and shiny surface that is ideal for printing and the product is light weight. The manufacturing process can be manipulated to significantly improve the elastic modulus and the yield stress of the product, over solid PLA film, while decreasing the strain percentage at break. These properties make the material an excellent product for the targeted applications. BPN has also studied the incorporation of different biomass in all their foamed products, from particle foam to foamed film. The focus has been on available low value biomass such as pine bark, canola meal or dried distiller grains and excellent foam has been achieved with biomass loadings as high as 15 %. The resulting foam exhibits altered properties, depending on the biomass loading and therefore can target different applications, with a reduced product cost achieved by the substitution of a processed plastic with a low cost biomass. Traditionally, Zealafoam particle foam has been moulded using existing expanded polystyrene (EPS) equipment to produce low density foam with similar mechanical and thermal insulation properties to that of EPS. Zealafoam is a closed cell foam with properties primarily determined by the properties and morphology of the polymer, the foam or cellular structure, and the bulk density. Using these principles, BPN have produced a more diverse range of products incorporating their technology for new applications, combining the functionality of excellent insulating properties and light weight with the many advantages of a bio-based plastic. This research was funded by New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. 30 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/16] Vol. 11

organized by supported by 20. - 22.10.2016 Messe Düsseldorf, Germany Bioplastics in Packaging BIOPLASTICS BUSINESS BREAKFAST B 3 PLA, an Innovative Bioplastic Bioplastics in Durable Applications Subject to changes Call for Papers now open Contact: Dr. Michael Thielen ( At the World‘s biggest trade show on plastics and rubber: K‘2016 in Düsseldorf bioplastics will certainly play an important role again. On three days during the show from Oct 20 - 22, 2016 bioplastics MAGAZINE will host a Bioplastics Business Breakfast: From 8 am to 12 noon the delegates get the chance to listen and discuss highclass presentations and benefit from a unique networking opportunity. The trade fair opens at 10 am. BIO-BASED START-UP DAY 7 April 2016 · Maternushaus · Cologne · Germany Organiser Venue & Accomodation Maternushaus Cologne, Germany Kardinal-Frings-Str. 1–3, 50668 Cologne +49 (0)221 163 10 | Contact Dominik Vogt Conference Manager +49 (0)2233 4814-49 HIGH-POTENTIAL START-UPS FROM BIO-BASED CHEMISTRY, POLYMERS AND BIOTECHNOLOGY The Bio-based Start-up Day will bring start-ups, investors and industry together by giving the floor to everyone and providing great opportunities of networking. The day will start with a keynote speech followed by presentations of start-ups. Related clusters such as CLIB2021 and IBB Netzwerk will also have the chance to present their own young start-ups. In a special meeting session the audience will have the opportunity to meet the start-ups and investors in person. Investors will afterwards provide an insight into their incentives and experiences working with start-ups in the bio-based and biotech sector. The day will end with a discussion and a coming together. Great networking opportunities all day long! More information:

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