Polymer Library

Renewable Resources - April 2015

This month we're we are focussing on renewable resources and biocomposites.

Renewable resources are a thriving area of research and investment. Mounting legislation, perceived environmental and health concerns and the need for more sustainable manufacturing methods have all increased its attractiveness to both industry and consumers.

Petrochemical feedstocks are increasingly being replaced with bio-based alternatives, such as starch and glucose derivatives. Fibre reinforcements such as flax, hemp, sisal, jute, wood and regenerated cellulose are also commonly found. Novel biocomposites are being introduced where the polymer matrix, the fibre reinforcement or even both aspects originate from a plant-based source.

The properties of such materials are being developed and improved by teams all over the world. Others are exploring waste management strategies and life cycle assessments. There are implications for nearly every industry, such as packaging, automotive, aerospace, electronics, drug delivery, agriculture the list goes on and on.

Below are some abstracts recently added to the Polymer Library on the subject.


These abstracts were highlighted in the April Newsletter and found in the Polymer Library.

Click on the 7-digit accession numbers to find out about ordering a copyright-cleared full text copy of the items shown.

1186032 - PLA recycling breakthrough
French green chemistry company Carbios has announced a breakthrough in enzymatic depolymerisation technology for the recycling of polylactic acid plastics. The company says it has successfully depolymerised 90% of a thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources in 48 hours, by using a proprietary enzymatic process. The process was tested on consumer goods made of PLA, including cups, trays, plastic films and flatware. Carbios says the new depolymerisation technology allows several technical constraints to be eliminated from the recycling process. First, it will make it possible to recycle plastic waste without the need for sophisticated sorting. Secondly, the enzymatic process is efficient on plastics containing additives or any sort of contamination, such as food residues, which eliminates washing the plastic.
Bioplastics World, 2, No.23, 15 Dec. 2014, p.6-8, ISSN: 2048-1101

1159194 - Comparative assessment of the environmental profile of PLA and PET drinking water bottles from a life cycle perspective
Bioplastic polymer that is produced from cassava has been considered the most promising alternative to conventional plastics as there is an abundant renewable resource in Thailand. The objective of this study was to analyse the life cycle environmental performance of polylactic acid (PLA) drinking water bottles produced in Thailand with an emphasis on different end-of-life scenarios. The functional unit was set at 1000 units of 250-ml drinking water bottles. The system boundary of the study covered all stages in the life cycle, including cultivation and harvesting, cassava starch production, transportation, glucose production, the polymerisation process to produce PLA resin, PLA bottles production, and disposal process. The input-output data included the use of resources (water, chemicals, materials), energy (electricity, fuels), and all emissions based on the functional unit. The life cycle environmental performance of PLA drinking water bottles was compared with that of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles for the same functional unit. The global warming potential, fossil energy demand, acidification, eutrophication, and human toxicity were selected in the analysis. The results obtained in this study showed that the environmental performance of cassava-based PLA bottles was better than PET bottles in terms of global warming, reduction of dependency on fossil energy, and human toxicity. In addition, it was shown that improving cassava starch process by combining with biogas production and utilisation will lead to significant reduction in global warming potential and eutrophication potential. 37 refs. Copyright (c) 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
Journal of Cleaner Production, 65, No.1, 2014, p.539-550, ISSN: 0959-6526, DOI:10.1016/j.jclepro.2013.09.030
Papong S; Malakul P; Trungkavashirakun R; Wenunun P; Chom-in T; Nithitanakul M; Sarobol E

1186911 - Biodegradable polymer composites with nitrogen - and phosphorus-containing waste materials as the fillers (OPEN ACCESS FREE ACCESS TO FULL TEXT)
Composites consisting of polyvinyl alcohol, nitrogen - and phosphorus-containing waste materials were prepared and studied as materials for encapsulation of mineral fertilisers By-products of biodiesel production (rapeseed cake, crude glycerol), horn meal (waste product of haberdashery) and phosphogypsum (by-product of the production of phosphorus fertilizers) were used as the fillers of the composites. The films of the composites with the different amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus were prepared using different fillers or their mixtures. Mechanical, properties of the films, hygroscopicity, solubility in water were studied. The composites developed were used for the encapsulation of mineral fertilisers. It was established that encapsulation resulted in the increase of the time of release of the fertilisers. The developed slow-release fertilisers represent a combination of inorganic and organic compounds. The organic part consists of nitrogen- and phosphorus containing horn meal and rapeseed cake. Since assimilation of organic substances is considerably longer, nitrogen and phosphorus of these components will be available for plants much later than inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus. Thus the composite film will not only decrease the rate of desorption of the components from the granules of the fertilisers but will also prolong the impact of the fertilisers on the plants. (26 ref)
Ecological Chemistry and Engineering S, 21, No.3, 2014, p.515-528, eISSN: 1898-6196, DOI: 10.2478/eces-2014-0038
Treinyte J; Grazuleviciene V; Ostrauskaite J

1187726 - Synthesis and characterisation of poly (lactic acid)/halloysite bionanocomposite films
Poly (lactic acid) (PLA)/natural halloysite nanotubes (HNTs) films were prepared by solution casting method to investigate their properties for packaging applications. Tensile test results revealed that the maximum tensile elastic modulus (1.40 plus/minus 0.05 GPa) and tensile strength (52.75 plus/minus 1.80 MPa) were achieved at 5 w/w % of HNTs (in a range of 0-10 w/w % HNT concentrations). A nanoindentation test was performed to confirm the reinforcing effect of HNTs. Analysis of electron micrographs of the fracture surfaces suggested that the reinforcing mechanism was subjected to the interfacial interaction between HNTs and PLA. Infrared spectra revealed that the end hydroxyl groups of PLA chemically interacted with HNTs' outer surface siloxane groups via hydrogen bonding. In addition, the contact angle test and thermogravimetric analysis were used to investigate the surface wettability and thermal stability of the PLA/HNT films, respectively. (49 ref).
Journal of Composite Materials, 48, No.30, 2014, p.3705-3717, ISSN: 0021-9983, DOI:10.1177/0021998313513046
De Silva R; Pasbakhsh P; Goh K; Chai S; Chen J

1163188 - European and global markets 2012 and future trends
In the European Union about 352,000 tonnes of wood-plastic composites (WPC) and natural fibre composites (NFC) were produced in 2012. The most important application sectors are construction and automotive interior parts. About 15% of the total European composite market is covered by WPC and NFC. A comprehensive market study was conducted by the nova-Institute in cooperation with Asta Eder Composites Consulting to give a detailed picture of such biocomposites in the European biobased economy. The analysis covers composites in extrusion, injection and compression moulding in different sectors and for different applications.
Bioplastics Magazine, 9, No.3, May-June 2014, p.42-44, ISSN: 1862-5258
Carus M; Dammer L; Scholz L; Essel R; Breitmayer E; Eder A; Korte H

1183068 - New high performance PLA grades for 3D printing (Short Article)
In 2015, NatureWorks will introduce new grades of high performance Ingeo PLA specifically formulated for professional and consumer 3D printing applications. These new grades will make significant improvements to the performance and heat resistance of 3D printed parts without sacrificing the printability and user friendliness of PLA.
Bioplastics Magazine, 9, No.6, Nov.-Dec. 2014, p.26, ISSN: 1862-5258
Ford L


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