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Issue 03/2022

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Highlights: Injection Moulding Beauty & Healthcare Basics: Biocompatibility of PHA Starch

Materials New amorphous

Materials New amorphous PHA product line A dvanced amorphous PHA technology will provide plastics manufacturers and consumer products companies with marine, soil, and home biodegradable options CJ BIO, a division of South Korea-based CJ CheilJedang, has introduced PHACT ® Marine Biodegradable Polymers based on its proprietary polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) technology. Being a part of the solution to change the trajectory of the plastic pollution challenge and preserving the planet is the essence of the PHACT brand. PHACT means PHA + Act and CJ Bio is committed to impactful action delivering eco-friendly solutions with their extensive PHA technology platform. The first product of the new line – PHACT A1000P – is an amorphous PHA (aPHA) being produced at CJ BIO’s newly commissioned Pasuruan, Indonesia facility. Currently, this is the only amorphous PHA on the market. Amorphous PHA is a softer, more rubbery version of PHA that offers fundamentally different performance characteristics than the crystalline or semicrystalline forms that currently dominate the PHA market. For its initial applications, PHACT A1000P will be used as a modifier to other compostable polymers and biopolymers to improve functional and processing characteristics, and for enabling these products to achieve faster rates of biodegradation or composting. PHACT is certified biodegradable under industrial compost, soil (ambient), and marine environments. It is considered home compostable, meaning that it does not require specialized equipment or elevated temperatures to fully degrade. Segments and applications for PHACT are numerous. The immediate focus will be on flexible and rigid packaging, which accounts for more than 50 % of singleuse plastics. Other markets include agriculture, organic waste management, coatings and adhesives, personal care, and healthcare. According to Max Senechal, Chief Commercial Officer of the CJ Biomaterials business, the company is looking forward to working with plastic resin producers, compounders, converters, and brand owners across multiple segments in putting this technology to work to reduce the impact of plastic waste on the environment. “The world is ready for fully biodegradable bioplastics solutions. Our environment needs it, regulatory agencies support it, and consumers want it”, Senechal said. “Eliminating the harm that petroleum-based plastic waste causes to people’s health and the environment is a project that thousands and thousands of people are working on around the world today. It is something that we can accomplish through working together and the intelligent application of technology. At CJ BIO, we’re excited for the opportunity to introduce people to PHACT and to helping them meet their sustainability goals of a lower carbon footprint and a favourable end-of-life scenario”, he added. Biobased and readily biodegradable The raw materials for PHACT are sugars sourced from plants like sugar cane, tapioca, corn, and cellulosic biomass. CJ BIO can increase PHA content in microorganisms from about 5 % default accumulation up to 85 % through fermentation via engineered microbial strains. The company employs advanced downstream technology for the extraction of PHA components and for the manufacture of specific products. These PHA products can be compounded and processed using conventional plastics processing equipment. They can also be used as modifiers to other polymers or biopolymers to increase biobased content, accelerate biodegradation and improve functional properties of resins and finished products. One promising application is accelerating the rate of composting of the biopolymer polylactic acid (PLA) which has seen significant growth as a biobased material in a broad range of finished product applications. Blending amorphous PHA in PLA leads to significant improvements in mechanical properties, such as toughness and ductility, while maintaining clarity. Developing the applications of tomorrow According to Raj Krishnaswamy, Vice President Product & Applications Development, CJ BIO is investing substantially in applications capability – both personnel and facilities – to help potential innovation partners develop next-generation solutions. “The applications for this technology are almost unlimited. Whether you’re talking about single-use food and beverage packaging, paper coatings, personal care, drug delivery systems, or medical devices – each solution needs to be developed in collaboration with value chain partners and with performance and cost in mind”, Krishnaswamy said. “What all of these applications have in common is the need for a truly biodegradable solution, and with CJ BIO PHA technology, we believe we can get there”, he added. AT Degradation Level Marine Soil Home Industrial PLA scPHA scPHA + aPHA PLA + aPHA aPHA (CJ only) Brittle Property Flexible 28 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/22] Vol. 17

Flax for honeycomb panel Flax instead of glass fibres for lightweight solutions Materials In 2020 Flaxco ® (Roeselare, Belgium) approached EconCore (Leuven, Belgium) suggesting a combination of thermoplastic honeycomb technology with Flaxco’s flax fibre technology. The polypropylene honeycomb material produced by EconCore offers a high-performance-toweight ratio along with efficient energy absorption. This is achieved through the materials synonymous honeycomb shaped hollow cells which support sandwich sheets to provide levels of high rigidity with minimal weight. Pioneering the use of flax with honeycomb technology, the partnership sees Flaxco’s flax fabric composite skins combined with EconCore polypropylene core to produce sandwich panels. In order to generate a high level of stiffness, sandwich cores require surface layers, like the neatly woven layers that Flaxco have the means to create. Once created the panels can be thermoformed thanks to their thermoplastic properties. This is typically done by means of short cycle compression moulding. Achieving a product with well-balanced characteristics, required pre-pregs of 0.5–1mm thickness to be used. By optimising flax technology with the polypropylene honeycomb core Flaxco is able to achieve much higher levels of rigidity. The table below describes the bending performance of a sandwich panel with flax composite skins. Flax fibres are a 100 % natural fibres that produce lower CO 2 levels than competitor materials including glass and carbon fibres, an increasingly important element within the automotive industry. Furthermore, research and testing are already underway for the material to find its place within the sports industry. With high levels of cost-efficiency compared to more conventional materials, the new Flaxco composite is expected to be the material of choice in a number of applications, especially those requiring dimensional stability. The new material aims to not only be used in new markets and applications but also replace non-sustainable materials already in use. Jochen Pflug, EconCore CEO added: “For new product developments sustainable materials have become a key requirement. Within the automotive industry, in particular, suppliers seek sustainable materials which lower their CO 2 footprint”. Pflug continued: “Flaxco’s natural flax fibre polypropylene composites are an ideal combination with our polypropylene honeycomb cores to achieve a sustainable material that retains high levels of performance. The production costs of thick monolithic laminates are high because many layers need to be combined, our honeycombs increase the stiffness and strength but require only a minimal amount of material in two thin surface layers”. One factor that has greatly benefitted the partnership between Flaxco and EconCore is the locations of their facilities. With both EconCore and Flaxco being based in Belgium, allowing for a local supply chain. Throughout both the design and manufacturing stages the advantages of this proved its advantages with regular stable deliveries and less transport being required, essential when one crisis after the other affects the transportation chains, from the Coronavirus pandemic to the recent raw material shortages. Ludwig Ryckebosch, Innovation and Business Development Manager at Flaxco said: “It was a match made in heaven. EconCore’s polypropylene honeycomb has been incredibly easy to work with. Its lightweight properties meant that it was the perfect choice to combine with our technology to develop flax fibre composite material”. The flax composite material is expected to have commercial applications across many industries, especially automotive interiors and computer casings. With sustainability being a key focus for companies across the globe, this all-new flax composite’s ability to be recycled without compromising on performance will play its role in reducing carbon emissions. AT | bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/22] Vol. 17 29

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