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Issue 05/2017

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Beauty & Healthcare

Beauty & Healthcare PolyBioSkin The future of biopolymers for skin-contact healthcare, sanitary, and personal care products Biopolymers not only reduce our dependency on finite fossil resources but can also offer higher versatility in comparison to conventional polymers when it comes to the possible end-of-life options for products. Especially for short-term single use products, this endof-life versatility can be a key sustainability factor. A lot of large-volume single-use disposable products such as diapers are currently treated in energy recovery or end up in landfills. Their reliance on the combination of a number of different materials as well as their after-use contamination prevents them from being fully or partially recycled. Most commercial diapers, for example, use polyolefin topsheets, and many cosmetic and biomedical skin-contact applications also still rely on conventional plastic films, which is one reason for their poor position in the waste management hierarchy (fig. 1). Another drawback of the conventional plastic materials currently used in these types of skin-contact applications is their tendency to cause skin irritations, inflammations, and even intolerances. Biopolymers and other bio-based substances on the other hand offer a high degree of biocompatibility and other unique features but are still hugely under-exploited in this field. PolyBioSkin, a Horizon2020 project coordinated by Spainbased advanced engineering SME IRIS, aims to develop both optimal biopolymers and processes for the sanitary, biomedical, and cosmetic sectors. PolyBioSkin is funded by the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking, a public-private partnership between the EU and the Bio-based Industries Consortium with the goal of realising the full potential of the bioeconomy in Europe to reduce its dependency on fossilbased products, tackle climate change challenges, and lead to greener and more environmentally friendly growth. PolyBioSkin will deliver: (i) A biodegradable diaper consisting of an antimicrobial bio-based topsheet beneficial for the skin and a bio-based superabsorbent layer; (ii) novel facial beauty masks based on textiles or films made from bio-based and biodegradable polymers and impregnated with molecules beneficial for the skin; (iii) nano-structured highly skin-compatible non-woven textiles for wound dressings. To achieve the ambitious goal of greatly advancing the use of biopolymers in selected skin-contact applications and improving both their performance and sustainability, 12 partners from 7 countries are collaborating in this 3-year project. The selection of bio-based materials for the project combines formulations based on engineered biopolymers like polylactic acid (PLA) with naturally available ones like polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) or chitin, with a significant bio-based carbon content above 90 % according to ASTM D6866, all of which are biodegradable in industrial composting. There are already some efforts to introduce PLA, the biodegradable polymer with the largest market share, which is also biocompatible and therefore, used in several biomedical applications but also in diapers as an alternative to polyethylene top-sheets. In fact, PLA being an aliphatic polyester offers the same functionality as diaper topsheets made from PE, i.e. keeping the skin dry, while at the same time featuring an improved biocompatibility. PolyBioSkin will drive this development also by additivating PLA with chitin nanofibrils in order to provide PLA films with excellent antimicrobial properties and avoid skin irritations. Furthermore, natural absorbent cores based on modified cellulose and starch will substitute the generally used acrylic petrochemical absorbents. Chitin is a polysaccharide present in the skeletons of insects and the shells of crustaceans and readily available from food industry processing waste (for instance sea food waste). Chitin and its derived biopolymer chitosan have shown excellent techno-functional properties in different fields, for example for edible coatings with good gas barrier properties, antimicrobial properties for wound care, skin hydration and repairing in cosmetic application or biostimulants for plants. Besides, in its nanofibril form, chitin has been reported to be a potent skin inflammation suppressant to be applied, for example, against atopic dermatitis. This feature is of huge relevance for all skincontact applications pursued in the project. Another very versatile group of emerging biopolyesters are polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs). They can be synthesised directly in the cells of a number of microorganisms and the exacted polymer structure and molecular weight can vary greatly depending on the microorganism nature and culture conditions. As such, PHAs structure can be different in terms of content of comonomers (3-hydroxybutyric acid, 4-hydroxybutyric acid, 3-hydroxyvaleric acid, etc.) or molecular weight, which in turn can lead to flexible or rigid plastics and to different possibilities of processing in conventional industrial machines. Among the commercially available PHAs, most are from Gram negative bacteria. Despite their unique biocompatibility and even, in some cases, inherent antibacterial properties, PHAs from Gram positive bacteria are still not commercially utilized. Especially in the case of wound dressings, such new materials could help to avoid immune reactivity and maximise skin regeneration potential. In PolyBioSkin, not only the materials themselves will be optimised, but also process-driven structuring will be given special attention to obtain films, fibres, and nonwoven textiles with properties tailored to each of the PolyBioSkin target applications. Indeed, a nanofibrous morphology is known to result in a much faster liquidity absorption than the regular bulk properties of the same polymer, leading to optimal resource efficiency. As such, PolyBioSkin aims at developing high quality products by utilising the most advanced polymer conversion techniques, such as electrohydrodynamic processing, tailored surface modification, and the latest developments in nanotechnology. 34 bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/17] Vol. 12

Beauty & Healthcare By: Elodie Bugnicourt and Rosa Arias Innovació i Recerca Industrial i Sostenible (IRIS) Castelldefels, Spain Maria-Beatrice Coltelli and Serena Danti Consorzio Interuniversitario Nazionale per la Scienza e Tecnologia dei Materiali (INSTM) University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy Götz Ahrens, Project Manager European Bioplastics Berlin, Germany Thanks to the use of electrical forces, based on liquid atomisation, electrospinning enables the production of short to continuous fibres or particles. It is an extremely versatile and promising technology as it can lead to structures with variable density based on suspensions of different materials and even to core shells. The controlled release of active ingredients can be achieved through a porous structure of the matrix at the nano to micro scale produced through electrospinning. In PolyBioSkin, the biopolymer non-wovens embedding antimicrobial and antiinflammatory substances such as chitin will be based on electrospun nanofibre meshes. PolyBioSkin will boost the use of biopolymers that offer unique antimicrobial, antioxidant, absorbence, and skin biocompatibility properties for high performance skincontact applications. This will be demonstrated in diaper, facial beauty mask, and wound dressing applications. The use of PolyBioSkin’s innovative materials in these widely used products will result in enhanced quality of life and wellbeing of EU citizens, reduced environmental impact, and more environmentally friendly end-of-life options for skin-contact products. Fig. 1: Diapers, facial beauty masks, and wound dressings in the European Waste Hierarchy Current Scenario WASTE MANAGEMENT Waste Reduction Reuse Recycling/Composting Energy Recovery Landfill POLYBIOSKIN innovation The PolyBioSkin consortium combines the expertise of twelve partners from seven European countries, including five partners from academia and technology institutes: Consorzio Interuniversitario Nazionale per la Scienza e Tecnologia dei Materiali (INSTM, Italy), the University of Westminster (UK), Association pour la recherche et le developpement des methodes et processus industriels (ARMINES, France), Tehnoloski Fakultet Novi Sad (Serbia) and University of Gent (Belgium); six industry participants (SMEs): Innovació i Recerca Sostenible (IRIS, Spain, project coordinator), Bioinicia (Spain), Fibroline (France), Texol (Italy), Mavi Sud (Italy) and Exergy (UK), as well as the European Bioplastics association (Germany). PolyBioSkin has received funding from the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 745839. bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/17] Vol. 12 35

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