Events The world’s largest conference on biocomposites By: Asta Partanen and Michael Carus nova-Institute Hürth, Germany From 16 – 17 December 2015, the world’s largest conference on Wood-Plastic Composites (WPC) and Natural Fibre Composites (NFC) with more than 220 participants took place for the sixth time in Cologne, Germany. The conference was sponsored by Beologic, Corbion-Purac and Plasthill. Coperion sponsored the Wood and Natural Fibre Composite Award 2015. The range of topics that addressed the whole variety of bio-composites was presented by top speakers from the industry and research. Construction and automotive are the biggest markets for WPC and NFC today, these materials offer huge replacement potential in plastics and composites if one looks at application fields beyond decking and automotive interior applications. Biobased raw materials lead to local added value through innovative production processes and products, but require a great amount of know-how for raw materials, processes, properties, recipes and application fields. The conference provided an up-todate picture of different technologies and most promising applications. Dr. Asta Partanen, project leader of the conference, gave the outline of “Status and Future Markets for Biobased Composites in Europe until 2020”. The presentation gave insight into the new market and trend report, which was published in June 2015: “Wood-Plastic Composites (WPC) and Natural Fibre Composites (NFC): European and Global Markets 2012 and Future Trends in Automotive and Construction”. According to the study the share of WPC and NFC in the total composite market – including glass, carbon, wood and Natural Fibre Composites – is already an impressive 15 %. The production volume of WPC was 260,000 t in the EU in 2012, for NFC 92,000 t. The full study can be downloaded at http://bio-based.eu/markets/. Ten years ago the WPC & NFC Conference started as First German WPC-Conference. Good reason for Dr. Hans Korte from Dr. Hans Korte Innovationberatung Holz & Fasern, Wismar, to summarize what happened in the technical development starting at the end of 1990s in the field of WPC. The German WPC market is continuously growing, as was reported by Dr. Peter Sauerwein from the “Association of the German Wood-Based Panel Industry (VHI)”. An analyses of commercially available European decking samples was presented by Dr. Andreas Haider from Wood K plus, Austria. Some products in the market show an overall better performance compared to 2008 – in particular regarding water absorbance and colour fading but also the mechanical properties. Dr. Wayne Song, WPCC (Wood-Plastic Composite Council of China) presented the latest market news and trends, especially in interior walls in the Chinese markets, that does not grow as much as was predicted by Chinese representatives in previous conferences. As every year, the Wood and Natural Fibre Composite Award was a highlight of the conference. The participants chose by far the natural fibre-reinforced, 100 % biobased coffin as their winner (Onora, s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. Second highlight was the trend in WPC and NFC granulates. So far, also mainly small producers and traders were offering WPC and NFC granulates with a limited technical support and often missing data for simulations. But also this is changing since big global players are offering their new developed materials, such as PolyOne (see article on p. 12). Developments in the use of biobased polymers in the automotive industry were shown by a number of companies (see detailed report on p. 16f). Michael Carus, managing director of nova-Institute, summed up: “It was impressive to see the dynamic in the WPC and NFC sector: Improved bio-composite properties, a broad range of professional players and the penetration of new markets such as consumer goods. The participants enjoyed the high quality of the presentations and exhibition and meeting the who-is-who of the whole sector. Many reported excellent business opportunities.” The award winning coffin in the left corner of the picture. See a more detailed report on this product in bioplastics MAGAZINE issue 06/2015, p 36. Information: All presentations are now available at http://bio-based.eu/proceedings. In order to keep track of the the growing trends in the market and high demand the next conference will be held by nova-Institute in Cologne in Autumn 2017. 8 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/16] Vol. 11
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