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issue 02/2021

  • Text
  • Balance
  • Moulding
  • Carbon
  • Recycling
  • Plastics
  • Sustainable
  • Products
  • Renewable
  • Biobased
  • Packaging
  • Materials
  • Bioplastics
Highlights: Injection Moulding Basics: Mass Balance

Renewable Carbon

Renewable Carbon Bioeconomy is not alone From Bioeconomy to Carbon Management The bioeconomy faces great expectations and hopes in the fight against climate change, and at the same time is viewed critically. The biggest problems in building a strong bioeconomy are direct and indirect landuse changes, which have significant impacts on biodiversity, climate change, and food security. What could be a solution here? The most prevalent approach is to develop comprehensive sustainability indicator systems to identify the consequences of landuse changes. But so far, it has proven very difficult to develop consistent and harmonised systems that are also applicable. Especially because dilemmas arise when such indicators intrinsically oppose each other. Apart from this, the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) in Europe led to the development and establishment of various biomass certifications on the market that also request compliance with sustainability criteria. However, the application of strict sustainability criteria for biomass also means that not enough biomass can be used to replace the fossil feedstock, which in turn has significant impacts on climate protection, biodiversity, and food security. Nevertheless, there is a completely new and surprising solution, an out of the bio-box thinking, by expanding the frame of reference. The bioeconomy has never been an end in and by itself, it has never been propagated for its own sake. Rather, the bioeconomy was promoted to help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the areas of fuels, chemicals, and materials by replacing the fossil economy. The carbon needed for these sectors should then no longer be taken from fossil sources in the ground, but instead through plants straight from the atmosphere. Over the past decade, however, it has become clear that the bioeconomy cannot achieve this without seriously compromising food security and biodiversity. For this reason, we also see a European bioeconomy policy that acts very cautiously and focuses primarily on biogenic waste streams. Fortunately, new technologies have been developed in the last ten years that represent further alternatives to fossil carbon. In the transportation sector, electric mobility and hydrogen fuel cells are promising options for future mobility. For the chemical and material industries, CO 2 utilisation (Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU)) and plastic waste recycling represent significant alternative carbon streams that can and already do substitute additional fossil carbon. The bioeconomy is no longer alone. Together, all three renewable carbon sources – biomass, CO 2 utilisation, and recycling – can replace the entire fossil system. With the introduction of chemical recycling, the limitations of mechanical recycling can be overcome so that almost all waste streams can be used as a carbon source. The use of CO2, with the help of green hydrogen from renewable energy sources, brings significant advantages over biomass due to considerably higher land efficiency and the option to utilise non-arable land such as deserts. This can substantially reduce the pressure on natural ecosystems. Finally, CO 2 use fits perfectly with the emerging hydrogen economy. So, the question on how to deal with sustainable tradeoffs of the bioeconomy has a surprising answer: expand the reference system to all alternative carbon sources. A new, comprehensive strategy for sustainable chemicals and materials must include the long-term carbon demand that still exists after the extensive decarbonisation of the energy sector. Furthermore, it needs to show how this carbon demand can be covered in the most sustainable way possible – and what role the bioeconomy will play in this, in different regions, for different applications and technologies. Most certainly, the bioeconomy will continue to play an important role, short as well as long term. There will always be biogenic material flows that can only be used outside the food sector. There will be areas that can produce additional biomass without any competition with the food supply. There will be special fine chemical molecules that can be best produced from biomass. And in addition to thermo-chemical and chemical-catalytic processes, biotechnology including synthetic biology will continue to develop rapidly and make the use of biomass ever more efficiently. Biotechnology is not limited to biomass but will also play an important role in CO 2 utilisation and enzymatic recycling. Carbon management By expanding the reference system, we properly integrate the bioeconomy into a long-term strategy for future carbon demand in the material sector. This facilitates what we call carbon management, which is an overarching challenge of the future and could serve as an excellent framework for constructive discussions between all stakeholders. What is the long-term carbon demand of chemicals and materials after the energy sector has been largely decarbonised? And how can this demand be met as sustainably as possible, including all alternative carbon sources? What is required here is an overarching carbon management strategy that also takes specific regional and application-related features into account. Which simultaneously applies the same sustainability requirements to all renewable carbon streams. Such a strategy does not yet exist, but it is indispensable if we want to shift towards renewable chemicals, materials, and products. This is the only way to develop a realistic strategy to completely substitute fossil carbon and thus tackle the climate problem at its root. www.nova-institute.com | www.renewable-carbon.eu/publications/ By: Michael Carus nova-Institut Hürth, Germany 50 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/21] Vol. 16

Twin Screw extruder for durable biomaterial Machinery Swedish innovation company RenCom AB announced the start of production of Renol®, an innovative thermoplastic biomaterial. Following comprehensive studies in Coperion’s extrusion test lab in Stuttgart, Germany, RenCom and Coperion have developed the innovative extrusion process of Renol, a lignin-based material. Using Coperion’s ZSK twin screw extruder technology lignin can be transformed into durable, reusable biomaterial. Coperion has delivered a ZSK twin screw extruder, gravimetric feeders, a strand pelletizing system, a lignin bag dump station, and a big bag station to RenCom. The system has now been successfully commissioned and production has already started, according to schedule. RenCom will be able to produce more than 1.000 tonnes of Renol per year. Extrusion technology for future-oriented biomaterial RenCom’s patented technology is based on lignin, a byproduct from the forest industry, transforming it into a highperformance renewable material. Renol can be used in ratios up to 50 % in applications such as films (shopping bags, mulch films, or retail bags), injection molding (furniture and automotive parts), and as an infill material for artificial football pitches replacing toxic and non-degradable rubber. It can be used directly in existing production infrastructure without any modifications to machines or methods. With a very low carbon footprint and water consumption, and with high mechanical and physical properties, Renol is a powerful solution for replacing and reducing the use of fossil-based plastics. Coperion has in cooperation with RenCom designed a complete extrusion system comprising a ZSK Mv PLUS corotating twin screw extruder as well as auxiliary equipment. The ZSK Mv PLUS series unites an optimally balanced large free screw volume with high screw speeds and a high specific torque. Thanks to the deeply cut screw flights thermal stress on the raw material is very low and product processing is very gently. Partnership of two innovative companies The comprehensive studies in Coperion’s test lab and the realisation of the extrusion system for the production of Renol has been the beginning of a successful partnership between RenCom and Coperion. “We are very happy to be able to support this innovative company on their exciting journey. We see big potential for their lignin-based product decreasing the carbon footprint by substituting fossil-based plastics. We are proud to support the production of their sustainable products”, comments Peter von Hoffmann, General Manager Business Unit Engineering Plastics & Special Applications at Coperion. “We, at RenCom, are very proud that the ZSK extruder has started. We are now in a position to produce Renol in large quantities and thus make a major contribution to the challenges with fossil-based plastics. We are excited to start our production and supply our customers with hundreds of tons of material”, says Johan Verendel, RenCom’s Chief Technical Officer. AT www.lignin.se | www.coperion.com RenCom has chosen Coperion’s ZSK twin screw extrusion technology to enable the production of Renol. Image: Coperion, Stuttgart From wood to biodegradable thermoplastic biomaterial Renol Image: RenCom, Knivsta, Sweden bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/21] Vol. 16 51

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