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Issue 02/2017

  • Text
  • Bioplastics
  • Packaging
  • Biodegradable
  • Materials
  • Products
  • Biobased
  • Films
  • Plastics
  • Compostable
  • Germany
bioplasticsMAGAZINE_1702

Automotive Materials

Automotive Materials Material-News New blends for home compostable films Bioplastics producer FKuR has introduced new Bio-Flex blends which meet the stringent requirements of the French Energy Transition Law for plastic bags. Home compostable and up to 40 % biobased, the new compounds fit the bill for a wide range of applications. The new Bio-Flex blends are designed for the production of low gauge films that will biodegrade completely in garden compost at low, variable temperatures. The new grades have already been awarded OK Compost HOME certificates by Vinçotte, the Belgian accredited inspection and certification organisation. In addition, most of the new compounds meet the requirements of Article 75 of the French Energy Transition Law (“Loi sur la transition énergétique”), under which since January 1, 2017, plastic bags may no longer be issued by retailers for fruit and vegetables, nor for cheese, meat and fish sold at supermarket counters. However, bags made from home compostable bioplastic which contain a minimum content of renewable raw materials of 30 % (and from 2025, 60 % renewable raw materials) are excluded from this ban. All home compostable Bio-Flex compounds are regarded as having outstanding moisture resistance. This is a great advantage when compared with many other commercially available starch-based plastics of this type. These biodegrade rapidly but should only be filled with dry contents. The range of possible applications for these new compounds of FKuR is wide and includes multi-purpose bags, as well as bags for fruit and vegetable packing, mulching films and other packaging The product range currently comprises both translucent and opaque grades. Bio-Flex FX 1803 (30 % biobased), F 1804 and F 1814 (both 40 % biobased) grades are translucent. Bio-Flex F 1814 offers the additional benefit of increased tear resistance. They are suitable for packaging goods with printed QR codes as well as for visually attractive packaging for all types of printed materials. Bio-Flex FX 1821 (10 % biobased), FX 1823 (30 % biobased) and FX 1824 (40 % biobased) grades are all opaque. These opaque grades show very good tear resistance and toughness. Pilot tests with customers have shown that bag thickness can easily be down gauged to 8 μm with these new grades. The good processing properties using existing production facilities are similar for all Bio-Flex grades and are a characteristic of FKuR compounds. MT www.fkur.com 9 / F14 translucent Bio-Flex FX1803 tear resistant Bio-Flex FX 1824 Towards all-cellulosic packaging materials VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd has developed lightweight 100 % bio-based stand-up pouches with high technical performance. High performance in both oxygen, grease and mineral oil barrier properties has been reached by using different biobased coatings on paper substrate. The pouches exploit VTT’s patent pending high consistency enzymatic fibrillation of cellulose (HefCel) technology. “One-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. Packaging with efficient barrier properties is a crucial factor in the reduction of the food loss. Our solution offers an environmentally friendly option for the global packaging industry”, says Senior Scientist Jari Vartiainen of VTT. VTT’s HefCel technology provides a low-cost method for the production of nanocellulose resulting in a tenfold increase in the solids content of nanocellulose. Nanocellulose has been shown to be potentially very useful for a number of future technical applications. The densely packed structure of nanocellulose films and coatings enable their outstanding oxygen, grease and mineral oil barrier properties. HefCel technology exploits industrial enzymes and simple mixing technology as tools to fibrillate cellulose into nanoscale fibrils without the need for high energy consuming process steps. The resulting nanocellulose is in the consistency of 15-25 % when traditional nanocellulose production methods result in 1-3 % consistency. The stand-up pouch is the fastest growing type of packaging, growing at a rate of 6.5 % per year from 2015-2020. Fossil-based plastic films still dominate the packaging market. However, the development of environmentally friendly new materials is of growing importance. Nanocellulose has been shown to be potentially very useful for a number of future technical applications. VTT has solid expertise in various bio-based raw materials and their application technologies for producing bio-based coatings, films and even multilayered structures both at lab-scale and pilot-scale. A versatile set of piloting facilities are available from raw material sourcing through processing to application testing and demonstration. Not exactly a bio-plastic product, this fully biobased packaging is a very interesting development. MT www.vtt.fi 18 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/17] Vol. 12

Materials Sustainable levulinic acid Promising building block to be produced from sugar-industry by-products As a sustainable platform chemical, green levulinic acid is considered to hold huge potential for the sustainable chemical industry of the future. Now, Italian companies Bio-on and Sadam Group are jumping on the bandwagon. While levulinic acid may well be regarded as a key player in the greening of the chemical industry, the volumes produced today are insufficient to successfully fulfil this role. With market demand for levulinic acid forecast to explode in the coming years, the Italian biotechnology company Bio-on and agro-industrial Sadam Group have launched a joint project to develop innovative industrial processes to produce this - using by-products from the sugar industry as raw material. The coming three years will be devoted to building a demo plant and developing the necessary industrial processes to produce green levulinic acid at competitive cost. Some years ago, levulinic acid was identified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the USA as an extremely promising bio-intermediate. A platform chemical, it can be used to produce other chemical substances or to replace the synthetic alternatives. The main end users of levulinic acid are the agricultural, pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors, but this natural molecule also helps create new ecological fuels, fertilisers and antiparasitic products. It is also used in the bioplastics sector, expanding its field of application, and it is an intermediate element for making high-performance plastics, drugs and many other new-concept green products. Based on the most recent forecasts and based on various independent research, Bio-on estimates that market demand for levulinic acid will grow 150-200-fold over the next 7-8 years. To anticipate the growing demand and exploit a competitive advantage, Bio-on and Sadam Group have launched the present project, which envisages using sugar beet co-products as the raw material. Particular attention will be paid to Levulinic acid economic and ecological aspects: current global production of levulinic acid comes from highly polluting factories, with an unacceptable environmental impact for European standards and with vast production costs, resulting in high market prices. “Levulinic acid is considered one of the 12 building blocks of the green chemical industry of the future,” explained Marco Astorri, Chairman of Bio-on S.p.A. “Working on a new method of producing levulinic acid on an industrial scale over the coming months, as we announced in 2015, fills us with pride and enables us to consolidate our global leadership in the development of modern biochemistry.” First, a pilot plant will be built for research purposes. Subsequent project development would involve the construction of a demo plant with a capacity of 5,000 tonnes of levulinic acid per year at Sadam’s Tre Casali agroindustrial plant in San Quirico (Parma). An industrial plant using proprietary technology from Bio-on will also be built where PHA biopolymers will be produced from glycerol, a co-product of bio-diesel production. The final goal of the project will be to demonstrate the feasibility of creating a production process at competitive cost and with low environmental impact that can be replicated on a larger scale in a subsequent industrial and commercial phase. We are pleased with this initial development stage conducted by Bio-on, Sadam Group,” says Massimo Maccaferri, Chairman of Sadam, “because this molecule is an extraordinary tool that can kick-start the re-launch of the Italian chemical industry, safeguarding employment and guaranteeing an investment in our future.” The project, entitled “Industrial eco-sustainable production of levulinic acid from sugar industry byproducts not intended for human food - PROECOLEV”, has been approved by MISE (Italian Ministry of Economic Development) with a 2016 ministerial decree now in effect. The project has a duration of 36 months and has an estimated budget of 6 million Euro backed by MISE from the Sustainable Growth fund, Sustainable industry tender 2015, with a blend of subsidised and non-recoverable credit. The technology developed by the Bio-on/ Sadam Group team will encourage the creation of bio-refineries in Europe capable of converting crude, natural raw materials into renewable elements with high added value, within the circular economy and green economy to be promoted in the European Union. KL www.bio-on.it bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/17] Vol. 12 19

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