Bioplastics Business Breakfast

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  • Evonik showcases sustainable material solutions for the sports industry


    The German sports equipment manufacturer Vaude is using the biobased polyamides of Evonik's Vestamid Terra brand in its new collection of bags and backpacks.


    Evonik is responding to the continuing demand for greater sustainability in the sports industry with innovative plastics solutions. The combination of environmental benefits and exceptional material properties has made the company’s bio-based polyamide Vestamid Terra a preferred material for Vaude’s sports equipment. 

    The family-owned company from southern Germany relied on the bio-based synthetic material by Evonik for developing the buckles of its new bag and backpack collection.

    Vestamid Terra (PA 610) offers excellent impact resistance in cold temperatures. That makes the material ideally suited for all-weather buckles and other durable elements in equipment for demanding mountaineering and other leisure activities. Thanks to their low water absorption, buckles made of PA 610 are less likely to become brittle when used in the sports equipment of Vaude. This reduces the risk of tearing and improves product safety. Moreover, the low density of Vestamid Terra allows for manufacturing lighter sports equipment with a natural feel.

    “Our products reflect our deep commitment to people and nature. We are always searching for innovative materials that help us meet these self-imposed obligations. The bio-based plastics of Evonik open up new opportunities to manufacture our products with even greater sustainability,” says René Bethmann, innovation manager at Vaude.

    Vaude plans to expand the successful use of VestamidTerra to other product ranges in the future. For example, textile fibers made from Evonik's biopolyamides are lightweight, stretchable and breathable. The fabrics stand out for low moisture absorption, they dry quickly and don’t need ironing. The unique innovative high-performance fibers can be processed in all textile applications.

    Vestamid Terra is made up to 100 percent from the seeds of the castor bean plant, but its sustainability concept goes beyond environmental benefits. Since castor bean plants can survive prolonged drought, they are typically cultivated in arid regions with no other agricultural use. As a result, the high-performance polymer does not have a negative impact on the human food chain.

    Visit Hall 6, B28 at the K Show in Düsseldorf from October 16-23 for information.

  • Engineered biobased material shows promise of protein engineering


    The unique material outperforms most of today's synthetic and natural materials by providing high strength and stiffness, combined with increased toughness.

    vAchieving strength and extensibility at the same time has so far been a great challenge in material engineering: increasing strength has meant losing extensibility and vice versa. Now Aalto University and VTT researchers have succeeded in overcoming this challenge, inspired by nature.

    The researchers created a truly new bio-based material by gluing together wood cellulose fibres and the silk protein found in spider web threads. The result is a very firm and resilient material which could be used in the future as a possible replacement for plastic, as part of bio-based composites and in medical applications, surgical fibres, textile industry and packaging.

    According to Aalto University Professor Markus Linder, nature offers great ingredients for developing new materials, such as firm and easily available cellulose and tough and flexible silk used in this research. The advantage with both of these materials is that, unlike plastic, they are biodegradable and do not damage nature the same way micro-plastic do.

    'Our researchers just need to be able to reproduce these natural properties', adds Linder, who was also leading the research.

    'We used birch tree pulp, broke it down to cellulose nanofibrils and aligned them into a stiff scaffold. At the same time, we infiltrated the cellulosic network with a soft and energy dissipating spider silk adhesive matrix,' says Research Scientist Pezhman Mohammadi from VTT.

    Silk is a natural protein which is excreted by animals like silkworms and also found in spider web threads. The spider web silk used by Aalto University researchers, however, is not actually taken from spider webs but is instead produced by the researchers using bacteria with synthetic DNA.

    'Because we know the structure of the DNA, we can copy it and use this to manufacture silk protein molecules which are chemically similar to those found in spider web threads. The DNA has all this information contained in it', Linder explains.

    'Our work illustrates the new and versatile possibilities of protein engineering. In future, we could manufacture similar composites with slightly different building blocks and achieve a different set of characteristics for other applications. Currently we are working on making new composite materials as implants, impact resistance objects and other products," says Pezhman.

    The research project is part of the work of the the Centre of Excellence in Molecular Engineering of Biosynthetic Hybrid Materials (Hyber).

    The research was published in Science Advances 13 September, 2019:

  • Biocomposites take the Cake


    Cake, which recently launched a groundbreaking electric motorbike, will now collaborate with Trifilon, an exciting Swedish startup that designs and sells sustainable materials with advanced biocomposite technology.

    aThe partnership was born of Cake’s mission to explore new sustainable technologies while producing exciting high-performance motorbikes. Trifilon’s biocomposites, which are produced with fibers from hemp and flax plants, can help the company improve its sustainability merits while maintaining the performance of its motorbikes.

    The current project will seek to replace current plastic components with Trifilon’s plant-based biocomposites. With Cake’s ethos of sustainability and clean transportation, the company has found a good match in the green-tech startup Trifilon, which helps companies systematically lower CO2 emissions and integrate renewable materials. Trifilon’s hemp-based biocomposite BioLite reduces the CO2 footprint from its manufacture by at least one third.

    “This is a great match because our companies are both about performance and sustainability. I think fans of Cake motorbikes will respond positively to having our plant fiber composites in their motorbikes. It will mean that some ingredients in their motorbikes come from European farms. That makes these exciting motorbikes even cooler and more sustainable,” said Trifilon’s CEO and co-founder Martin Lidstrand.

    The technology behind Trifilon’s biocomposites was initially intended for the automotive segment, as a substitute for lightweight, strong carbon fiber. Trifilon had previously developed and built the body of a car for Volkswagen Rally with its hemp-based biocomposite, BioLite.

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