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Issue 01/2018

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Basics From the soybean

Basics From the soybean field to the plastics manufacturer Soy product technologies replace petrochemicals and additives to meet end-user demands for sustainability You’ve heard of soy oil as a building bio-chemical, but you’re likely not aware of all the ways it’s used. In fact, you may have encountered soy-based plastics, foams and rubbers and not even known it. Thanks to soybean farmer investments in new uses of soy through the United Soybean Board (USB), major international brands have put soy to use in their products in recent years. For example, the Ford Mustang has used soy-foam seating for over a decade. John Deere has been using soy plastic resin in agricultural equipment for even longer. Firestone uses soy oil in the manufacturing of its agricultural vehicle tires and, last year, Goodyear unveiled Assurance WeatherReady, a new brand of soy-based tires. The Incredibly Versatile Soybean Soybean oil is one of the most versatile plant oils on the market, found in everything from food to foam. In the production of bio chemicals, soy oil can be used to replace petroleum-based oils in many industrial plastics applications such as equipment panels, composites, and polyester resins. And, thanks to a consistent supply, soy provides a sustainable and reliable ingredient. Adding to the case for using soy, life cycle assessment studies [1] show lower carbon dioxide emissions and energy costs during the production of soy plastics. This helps manufacturers save money and meet corporate sustainability standards. Be on the Lookout for High Oleic Soybean Oil High oleic soybean oil, an exciting soybean innovation, offers additional performance benefits in high temperature applications such as plastics, motor oil, lubricants, and functional industrial fluids. High oleic soybean oil’s unique fatty acid composition makes it an ideal chemical building block for plastics and other industrial applications. Some benefits of high oleic soybean oil include: • Retains chemical stability in its viscosity and flow characteristics throughout use • Reduces residue build-up on machinery, increasing time between clean up • Higher flash point (temperature at which it ignites) than petroleum-based oils • Provides excellent lubricity properties for lubrication and fluid applications With the ability to enhance products for industrial users of soy oil or chemical derivatives, demand for high oleic soybeans is primed to increase in the future. Plastics and Soy: The Research Continues Every year, new soy based products for both consumer and industrial applications become available. To keep that pipeline of petroleum alternatives full, soybean farmers are investing in a number of research projects that aim to bring new products to the market. Current USB-funded research projects underway include: • Lawn, field and horticultural soy-based products • High-performance plastics additives from high oleic soybean oil • Soy materials that enhance the performance of rubber plastic film and molded applications • Soy oil derivatives with lower flash points and improved low temperature performance of functional fluids and lubricants To find soy ingredient suppliers or get more information on how soy materials can improve products, the website can help. An overview of the many soy-based products on the market can be found in USB’s Soy Products Guide at This article was contributed by the United Soybean Board, headquartered in Chesterfield, Missouri, USA. MT Reference: [1] Life Cycle Impact of Soybean Production and Soy Industrial Products, February 2010 (free PDF-downlad at ) Spray Foam Insulation Soy Foam Mustang Seats Soy Combine Panel Soy Foam Mustang Seats with Soybeans 52 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/18] Vol. 13

Automotive 10 Years ago End of life Recycled bioplastic film Recycling of Bioplastics Klaus Feichtinger W Published in bioplastics MAGAZINE hen talking about end-of-life options for bioplastics, composting is very often the first solution to be mentioned. And even with the increased discussion of incineration and energy recovery as being perhaps a better solution, we should not forget that re-use and recycling are end-of-life options, or steps in an end-of-life scenario that should be exploited wherever possible. And recycling of bioplastics materials is possible, albeit not always easy. bioplastics MAGAZINE spoke with Klaus Feichtinger, General Manager at EREMA Engineering Recycling Maschinen und Anlagen Ges.m.b.H. in Ansfelden, Austria. bM: Mr. Feichtinger, Erema is world renowned for its recycling technology for conventional thermoplastics. But what about bioplastics? Feichtinger: We have indeed extensive experience with bioplastics, both from laboratory tests and from real recycling tasks with customers. These include blown films, cast films and even BO (biaxially oriented) films made of modified starch, PLA, or fossil-based biodegradable polymers. We have tested, for example, quite a few different Mater-Bi films, Ecoflex films and different mixtures. bM: What kind of machinery was applied to carry out these recyling tasks? Feichtinger: Basically our existing machines can be used without modifications. However, temperature and pressure conditions have to be adapted to the requirements of the different materials. For films without printing we suggest the Classic Erema System with cutter/ compactor, and single screw extruder without degassing. bM: But many films used today are printed ... Feichtinger: For films with extensive printing a different degassing screw design has to be chosen. For good degassing a sufficient pressure gradient is needed. On the other hand the screw design has to meet the temperature requirements in order to to avoid thermal degradation. Also important in this respect is the type of pigment carrier used in the printing inks. Many known In January 2018, Gerold Breuer, Head of Marketing & Business Development , EREMA Group, comments: EREMA looks back on 20 years of experience with bioplastics which, like all other thermoplastics, can be recycled with our equipment. And, as Mr. Feichtinger commented ten years ago: “Today, I don’t even think about PLA bottles”, the trend away from biodegradable towards biobased that was already emerging at the time, is now well established. I can imagine that the functionality of biodegradability makes sense in medicine, agriculture or catering. As a general waste management option, however, the principle of biodegradability falls well short, in my opinion, of what is required. In my opinion, this is now a widely accepted view, as illustrated by the shift to ‘drop in solutions’, especially for PE and PET. These now make up the largest group of bioplastics and can be recycled using the existing infrastructure, the same as their petroleum-based counterparts. carriers need higher temperatures in the recycling step, so for better recyclability the choice of pigments also might be important. bM: What about the recycling of PLA? Feichtinger: In the field of PLA our current experience basically covers two applications. The first is BO-PLA (bioriented PLA films). The edge trim, where the stretching clips are attached to the film, is thick enough to be directly fed back into the extruder. The slitter waste (cut off the final film), however is very thin, so that it cannot be fed directly into an extruder. Here our Classic Erema can be applied. There is, for example, one big production line for BO-PLA in France which is a modified BO- PP line. The Classic Erema that was initially supplied for the BO-PP production was later slightly modified to process BO-PLA with adapted process parameters. bM: And the second field of PLA applications ... ? Feichtinger: ... is cast film, for instance for thermoforming applications such as blister or clamshell packaging, or drinking cups. At 150 to 1000 µm this film is rather thick. The in-house production waste that has to be recycled is, for example, startup-waste, slitter waste or scrap webs. This waste material, be it PP, PS, ... PLA or whatever is used, is usually ground and fed back into the extruder. Now the trend is generally towards thinner wall thickenesses. If these thinner films are reground the bulk density decreases and the variation in bulk density increases which makes it diffcult to feed it back into the extruder. This thin-walled secondary material should be regranulated in an intermediate step in order to increase the bulk density. Our VACUREMA process however is ideal for the recycling of PET as well as PLA material. Great variations in bulk densitiy can be processed and, thanks to the applied vacuum, even without pre-drying and pre-crystallization. bM: I assume that everything you just said about cast film and thermoformed applications is also true for PLA bottles? Feichtinger: Today I don‘t even think about PLA bottles. Even in the range of a few ppm, PLA would contaminate the PET recycling stream. We are happy that PVC is almost ‘extinct’ - at least in Europe. And now PLA ... bM: But if one day enough PLA bottles can be collected ... Feichtinger: If once there are enough PLA bottles and these are collected totally separately, the same recycling technology as mentioned before could be applied to PLA bottles. But until a significant critical mass can be reached for an economical PLA recycling I have the greatest concerns about PLA bottles and their potential to contaminate the PET recycling stream. Maybe a different end-of-life option for PLA bottles should be used, such as composting where possible, or incineration with energy recovery. bM: Thank you very much, Mr. Feichtinger. End of life bM: And what kind of equipment is used here? 20 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/08] Vol. 3 Feichtinger: Well, PLA as well as PET is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture. If a single screw extruder is used for recycling, these materials have to be pre-dried and pre-crystallized, which is difficult for PLA with its low glass transition temperature. Drying needs a long time and the material becomes sticky. Recycling with a twin-srew extruder still needs predrying. Especially with lower wall thicknesses the twin screw process also becomes more and more difficult due to the bulk density. VACUREMA bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/08] Vol. 3 21 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/18] Vol. 13 53

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