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Issue 03/2022

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

Materials Hemp-based

Materials Hemp-based composite for wind turbine blades Hemp is the second-fastest-growing plant on earth. With over 40 % of Canada’s hemp production happening in Alberta, it’s a well-known and valuable cash crop to prairie farmers – and now even waste hemp fibre will be used at industrial scale making hemp a dual- use cultivar. Hemp could revolutionize clean energy, address deforestation in Central America, cut emissions, and reduce waste. Hemp-based composite materials turn out to be perfect for one application: Wind turbine blades. Wind turbine blades are usually made from balsa wood, this has led to deforestation in Ecuador where it is a native species. Plantations now account for 60 % of supply but quality is falling, prices are rising, and manufacturers are seeking viable alternatives. Balsa is fast-growing but doesn’t grow quickly enough on balsa plantations to extract whole logs large enough to cut long boards. Manufacturers have resorted to glueing together crosscut squares from trunks of trees to form stress skin panels. This development has added considerable cost to manufacturing balsa dimensional sheets and crosscut balsa planks lack the strength of old growth balsa. Because there is less balsa wood, some companies are turning to thermoplastics as a substitute like PET foam, but they are also more expensive than balsa, generate significantly more greenhouse gas emissions and do not offer the same compressive strength. INCA Renewable Technologies (Kelowna, BC, Canada) aims to change that with BioBalsa – it is cost-competitive with balsa and can achieve superior performance due to its higher compressive strength, moisture and fire resistance. INCA BioBalsa is more sustainable at every stage of its lifecycle compared to balsa, PET, or PVC. The product will be manufactured at a state-of-the-art 19,000 m² fibre processing and composites manufacturing facility to be built in Vegreville (AB, Canada). Working with partners and local farmers, they will take hemp biomass left over from protein production and turn it into high-value dimensioned fibre and cellulose, creating hemp-based composite panel products such as INCA BioPanels, BioPlastics, PrePregs, and of course, BioBalsa. “When ramped to capacity, INCA’s operation will purchase 54,000 tonnes of biomass per year generated from farmers growing hemp for plant-based protein. We will process this renewable resource into highly refined fibre. The short fibre will be transformed into INCA BioBalsa. The long fibre will be sent via rail to our second factory in Bristol (IN, USA) INCA BioBalsa TM where we will manufacture BioPanels for the RV industry, PrePregs for the automotive industry and BioPlastics for the consumer products industry. Our commercialization partners include Winnebago (Forest City, IA, USA )and Toyota (Toyota, Japan)”, said David Saltman, Chairman and CEO, INCA Renewtech. An independent lifecycle report conducted by GreenStep Solutions (Kelowna, BC, Canada), demonstrated that INCA’s hemp-based BioBalsa is far more sustainable than balsa wood. One cubic metre of BioBalsa sequesters 260 kg of CO 2 . While growing, hemp sequesters 3–6 tonnes of CO 2 e per hectare, and during the manufacturing process, BioBalsa generates 107 % less greenhouse gas emissions and reduces waste generation by 93 % versus cutting and milling balsa wood. It generates 164 % fewer carbon emissions than PET, 99.56 % less waste production, and 93 % less water consumption. “The lifecycle report we conducted for INCA Renewtech took into account the environmental impacts of extraction, production, resource use, and end-of-life disposal. Our report concluded that all of the INCA products assessed, dramatically reduced carbon emissions and environmental impacts, when compared to competitive products made of petroleum, wood, or fibreglass”, says Angela Nagy, President & CEO, GreenStep Solutions. INCA’s customers are interested in the performance characteristics of the company’s hemp-based biocomposites and also in the ESG features. Not only do the bio-composites sequester carbon, but they can also be remanufactured back into new products at the end of their useful lifecycle. In addition, INCA’s factories will be energy efficient and generate zero waste, air or water pollution, and all of the company’s employees will be shareholders. AT as compared to Balsa Wood 107 % less carbon emissions 93 % less waste production INCA BioFiber 8-15 tonnes of CO 2 absorbed per hectare INCA BioBalsa as compared to PET 164 % less carbon emissions 99,56 % less waste production 4 % more water consumption 93 % more water consumption 42 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/22] Vol. 17

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