Wednesday 29 October 2014

Automotive Biopolymers

José Rodilla, Senior Product Development Engineer with Faurecia - the world’s 6th largest supplier to the auto industry with a turnover of €16 billion - described their development of “NAFI Lean”, a composite of 80%PP and 20% hemp intended to replace their P/E copolymer in cockpits, door panels, instrument panels etc.  It’s lower density and reduced thickness compared with P/E copolymer or GRP are the key benefits with reduced fuel consumption being the USP for the auto industry.

Short-cut hemp is compounded with PP to make chips for injection mouldings.  Their use provides:
  ·         25% weight savings.
  ·         20% LCA Savings (CO2).
  ·         Processability on existing machinery with a 6% reduction in cycle time.
  ·         A step on the road to 100% bio-composites.

It is more expensive than P/E copolymer but currently perceived as the best compromise between quality and weight.  It is now used in the Peugeot 308.  3000 tonnes are produced in the EU and a further 10000 tpa planned for  Asia.
Faurecia is also developing its own 100% bio-based polymer “Biomat”,  for non-visible auto parts.  Biomat is 100% poly-butylsuccinate made from tapioca starch using monomer technology from BioAmber and polycondensation technology from Mitsubishi Chemicals.

Friday 24 October 2014

Biodegradable Gas Barrier Films

Domenico de Angelis of Nippon Gohsei (Japan) believes their Nichigo G-Polymer™ (PVOH) makes a better gas barrier film than EVOH and in dry atmospheres it can be 50x better.  So for dry foods in controlled storage at humidities below 60% RH PVOH will outperform EVOH to an extent that downgaging  and cost saving is possible.  

PVOH gives films with glass-like transparency which biodegrade like cellulose and are therefore fully compostable.  The packaging film used PVOH as the middle layer of a sandwich with PLA as the outer layers.  There were problems with adhesion and these had been solved using a special tie resin.  The 3-layer film could also be ground and recycled as PLA; the PVOH being water soluble could be washed away. A typical construction would be 20 microns of G-Polymer inside  30micron layers of PLA each bonded to the G-Polymer with 10microns of adhesive to give an oxygen transmission rate of 0.02 ccs/square metre/day at 23C and 50%RH.

Nippon Gohsei make 70,000 tonnes/year of PVOH in Japan.  Nichigo G-Polymer™ is the world’s first amorphous PVOH and combines the strengths of regular PVOH and EVOH.