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Issue 04/2016

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  • Bioplastics
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News Bio-based

News Bio-based auto-parts from tequila by-products Ford Motor Company (Dearborn, Michigen, USA) is teaming up with Jose Cuervo ® (Tlaquepaque, Mexico) to explore the use of the tequila producer’s agave plant byproduct to develop more sustainable bioplastics to employ in Ford vehicles. Ford and Jose Cuervo are testing the bioplastic for use in vehicle interior and exterior components such as wiring harnesses, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) units and storage bins. Initial assessments suggest the material holds great promise due to its durability and aesthetic qualities. Success in developing a sustainable composite could reduce vehicle weight and lower energy consumption, while paring the use of petrochemicals and the impact of vehicle production on the environment. “At Ford, we aim to reduce our impact on the environment,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader, sustainability research department. “As a leader in the sustainability space, we are developing new technologies to efficiently employ discarded materials and fibers, while potentially reducing the use of petrochemicals and lightweighting our vehicles for desired fuel economy.” The growth cycle of the agave plant is a minimum seven-year process. Once harvested, the heart of the plant is roasted, before grinding and extracting its juices for distillation. Jose Cuervo uses a portion of the remaining agave fibers as compost for its farms, and local artisans make crafts and agave paper from the remnants. Now, as part of Jose Cuervo’s broader sustainability plan, the tequila maker is joining forces with the automaker to develop a new way to use its remnant fibers. “Jose Cuervo is proud to be working with Ford to further develop our agave sustainability plan,” said Sonia Espinola, director of heritage for Cuervo Foundation and master tequilera. “As the world’s No. 1-selling tequila, we could never have imagined that the hundreds of agave plants we were cultivating as a small family business would eventually multiply to millions. This collaboration brings two great companies together to develop innovative, earth-conscious materials.” Like Ford Motor Company, Jose Cuervo is family-owned and operated. Founded in 1795, it has been making tequila for more than 220 years with the same experience, craftsmanship and recipes that have been handed down generation through generation. The collaboration with Jose Cuervo is the latest example of Ford’s innovative approach to product and environmental stewardship through the use of biomaterials. Ford began researching the use of sustainable materials in its vehicles in 2000. Today, the automaker uses eight sustainable-based materials in its vehicles including soy foam, castor oil, wheat straw, kenaf fiber, cellulose, wood, coconut fiber and rice hulls. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, 5 billion tonnes of agricultural biomass waste is produced annually. A byproduct of agriculture, the supply of materials is abundant and often underutilized. Yet the materials can be relatively low cost, and can help manufacturers to offset the use of glass fibers and talc for more sustainable, lightweight products. “There are about 180 kg of plastic on a typical car,” said Mielewski. “Our job is to find the right place for a green composite like this to help our impact on the planet. It is work that I’m really proud of, and it could have broad impact across numerous industries.” MT www.ford.com | www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN32wUwo2xc 10 th Anniversary of bioplastics plant – EcoCortec Cortec ® Corporation (St. Paul, Minnesota, USA) recently informed that one of the most advanced bioplastics manufacturers in Europe – EcoCortec ® is celebrating its 10 th anniversary. The project started in 2006 with greenfield investment by Croatian- American entrepreneur Boris Miksic. Today the plant has evolved in one of the most modern European manufacturers of environmentally safe films for corrosion protection. Continuous business growth is the result of innovative technology combined with high efficiency products and environmentally safe properties. Only this year the company sales grew by 20,6 % compared to 2015 and during the past 10 years the manufacturer has tripled its production capacity. The plant exports more than 90 % of its assortment to countries of Europe, Asia and USA. In the past years EcoCortec ® has been successfully participating in large European-funded projects. The company played a major role in international EUR 1,1 million worth Marine Clean Project – ’Marine debris removal preventing further litter entry’, sponsored by CIP Eco-Innovation Programme. Main goal of the project is preventing hazardous environmental impact of conventional plastic materials discarded at sea, as well as promoting sustainability and innovative technologies. Currently the company is negotiating a partnership in a new 2 million-euro project “PLAPAPER” within the Interreg Central Europe Programme. MT www.ecocortec.hr/en 8 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/16] Vol. 11

News BASF extends its portfolio of innovative foam solutions with ecovio EA BASF is expanding its range of high performance foam products with ecovio EA, an expandable, closed-cell foam material which is biobased and certified compostable. Largely biobased, it is made of BASF’s biodegradable polymer ecoflex and PLA, which is derived from corn or other sugar-generating plants such as manioc. This innovative patented particle foam offers properties similar to those of EPS and boasts outstanding energy absorption and very good resilience, even when subjected to multiple impact loads. This makes it particularly suitable for transport packaging applications, especially for high-value or delicate goods requiring a high level of impact resistance and robustness. To produce ecovio EA, expandable granules are charged with the blowing agent pentane in an innovative process. This step enables trouble-free pre-expansion of the material on conventional EPS pre-expanders and subsequent moulding. The granules are pre-expanded with the addition of steam to produce closed-cell beads with an adjustable minimum bulk density of 25 g/l. A short prefoaming time contributes to a low energy consumption in this production step. The expanded granules can subsequently be processed into a variety of different moulded parts on existing EPS or EPP production machines – no conversions or modification of the production process required. Its processing strongly resembles the processing of EPS. It is, however, necessary to adapt the process parameters. This is reflected in a shorter steaming time while the cycle time in the forming step remains overall the same. Due to a shrinkage rate of approximately 1.5 %, the mould geometries will need to be adapted. To ensure a very high quality of moulded part and dimensional stability it is advisable – similar to EPP processing – to carry out component conditioning in a heating oven after the shaping. Its lower rigidity – ecovio EA is somewhere between EPS and EPP when it comes to its energy absorbing capacity – make it perfect for use in the E&E sector, as well, in particular for heavy and delicate packaged goods such as washing machines or televisions that are easily damaged during transport. The material offers a minimum thermal conductivity of 0.034 W/ mK, and is therefore also outstandingly suited to all thermal insulation applications in the transport sector. ecovio EA helps to maintain the cold chain at all times for temperaturesensitive goods such as packaged vegetables, fruit, meat, frozen goods or even medicines, preventing spoilage. Its inherent properties also allow storage at temperatures of up to 100 °C over a period of several hours, which means that Ecovio EA is also suitable for hot-melt adhesive applications. And, while displaying good resistance to solvents such as acetone, as a certified compostable product, it contains no flame retardants. BASF is currently developing an ecovio EA grade approved for food contact applications. The material is constantly durable under normal environmental conditions. Special conditions, as are found in industrial composting plants, are required to initiate the biological degradation process. In places where appropriate waste disposal channels are available through local composting plants, it is easy to dispose of the foam. The certified compostability means that it is possible to dispose of it along with leftover food waste – without needing to separate the materials beforehand. Due to the high porosity and the specific surface area of the foam beads, ecovio EA degrades very quickly in industrial composting plants. Composting tests have shown that, for example, cubes of ecovio EA with an edge length of 5 cm and densities of 28 – 47 g/l break down within the space of five weeks to form water, CO 2 and biomass. Prior to composting, the material can also be recycled in grades in customary recycling processes. MT www.basf.com Magnetic for Plastics www.plasticker.com • International Trade in Raw Materials, Machinery & Products Free of Charge. • Daily News from the Industrial Sector and the Plastics Markets. • Current Market Prices for Plastics. • Buyer’s Guide for Plastics & Additives, Machinery & Equipment, Subcontractors and Services. • Job Market for Specialists and Executive Staff in the Plastics Industry. Up-to-date • Fast • Professional bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/16] Vol. 11 9

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