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Issue 01/2017

  • Text
  • Bioplastics
  • Biobased
  • Materials
  • Biodegradable
  • Packaging
  • Plastics
  • Products
  • Foam
  • Renewable
  • Sustainable

Application News The

Application News The world’s first biocomposite car Students from Netherlands-based Eindhoven University of technology have built a 4-seat electric car weighing a slender 300 kg – made from a flax sandwich material with a PLA core. It is the first time a car body structure has been made from a biocomposite. As reducing vehicle weight took over as a priority in the design and production of new cars, carmakers have increasingly resorted to the use of light materials, such as aluminium and carbon-fiber composites, for the body chassis structural parts. The TU/ecomotive team of students responsible for the design of the car called Lina, however, chose a different solution. Using sandwich panels comprised of flax-based composite with a PLA honeycomb core for Lina’s chassis, they have shown that biobased materials can deliver the required strength, without the weight, needed for an energy-efficient, light-weight, modern-day connected urban minicar. They call their approach, characterized by their drive to consume the least possible about of energy during production through the use of sustainable materials, “reduction during production”. Efficient and practical, Lina offers a sustainable choice, from cradle to grave. A redesigned battery pack from Nova will make swapping batteries easy and convenient, while paving the way for new battery technologies. In response to the recent car sharing trend, the latest NFC technology has also been incorporated into Lina: users gain access to the car using a smartphone or a card with an NFC chip. The car will recognize the user by the unique NFC code, and activate his or her personal user settings, such as playlists, frequent destinations or telephone contacts. Visualisation by DD COM ( The next step is to put Lina through her paces out on the street. To that end, the car will undergo an inspection at the RDW Netherlands Vehicle Authority to receive a licence number, which will enable the car to be driven on the public roads. Lina will be presented some time before the summer of 2017. KL Toothbrush handle from PLA compound The latest toothbrush handles made by Morbach, Germanybased SWAK Experience UG are produced from a biobased plastic developed by the Junior Research Group at the Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hanover, Germany. Here, a team of scientists have successfully modified a PLA-based plastic, such that it is now suitable for daily use in dental care. The handle is produced mainly from renewably-sourced materials from GMO-free feedstocks, thus meeting all the requirements of SWAK, the manufacturer of the toothbrush and a company that aims, wherever possible, to provide their customers with sustainable options to promote oral health. For better handling, the injection moulded handle is slightly angled, similar to the dental instruments used by dentists. While the handle is intended to last as long as possible, the brush heads must be regularly changed. These are made from the wood of the toothbrush tree, also called Miswak (Salvadora persica), which has been used in the Arab world for centuries to clean teath. Miswak wood is a natural source of fluoride and other minerals that are beneficial to dental health. The scientists of the Junior Research Group are working in close consultation with company of SWAK to optimize the handle material and the production process. The goal is to increase the biobased content of the material of the handle, as well as to explore the use of natural fibres. MT | 26 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/17] Vol. 12

Application News Shellfish chemistry to create new biodegradable adhesive Compostable black lids for hot drinks A new type of adhesive that combines the bonding chemistry of shellfish with a bio-based polymer has been shown to perform as well as commercially available products and can be easily degraded, representing a potential non-toxic alternative. “Adhesives releasing toxins including carcinogenic formaldehyde are almost everywhere in our homes and offices. The plywood in our walls, the chairs we sit on, and the carpet beneath our feet are all off-gassing reactive chemicals” said Jonathan Wilker, a professor of chemistry and materials engineering at Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana, USA). “Most of these glues are also permanent, preventing disassembly and recycling of electronics, furniture and automobiles. In order to develop the next generation of advanced adhesives we have turned to biology for inspiration.” Mussels extend hair-like fibers that attach to surfaces using plaques of adhesive. Proteins in the glue contain the amino acid DOPA, which harbors the chemistry needed to facilitate the cross-linking of protein molecules, providing strength and adhesion. Purdue researchers have now combined this bonding chemistry of mussel proteins with PLA The adhesive was created by harnessing the chemistry of compounds called catechols, contained in DOPA. “We found the adhesive bonding to be appreciable and comparable to several petroleum-based commercial glues,” Wilker said. “Results presented (in a research paper published online Jan. 4 in the journal Macromolecules) show that a promising new adhesive system can be derived from a renewable resource, display high-strength bonding, and easily degrade in a controlled fashion,” Wilker said. “Particularly unique was the ability to debond this adhesive under mild conditions.” “The detrimental health and environmental effects of synthetic glues are becoming more of a concern, with alternatives being developed,” Wilker said. “Renewable, nontoxic, and removable adhesives are thus in great demand to decrease our exposure to pollutants as well as waste in landfills.” A YouTube video is available at The researchers tested the adhesive by measuring the force needed to pull apart metal and plastic plates bonded together, finding that it compared favorably with various commercial products. Unlike synthetic glues, however, the adhesive can be easily degraded in water. MT Vegware, headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland, is a manufacturer and visionary brand, and the only completely compostable packaging company operating globally. End of last year Vegware launched compostable black lids for hot cups. “We made the lids to meet demands of the artisan coffee market and contract caterers for a black lid that looks great, but doesn’t compromise on eco credentials, Our customers have been asking for compostable black lids for years – we’re delighted to launch them.” Vegware’s Sales Director, Teresa Suter, says. Sleek and stylish, the matte-finish lids can withstand heat up to 85°C. Made from plantbased CPLA (crystallised PLA), the black lids are certified compostable and 67 % lower in embodied carbon than conventional plastic lids. The new black lids are available in two sizes to fit 8 – 20oz cups. Like all of Vegware’s packaging, they’re designed to be recycled with food waste. MT Purdue graduate student Heather Siebert tests the adhesive. (Purdue University photo/Erin Easterling) bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/17] Vol. 12 27

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