11. Oct 2019
At K 2019, the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies IWKS is showing applications for a new polymer raw material made from food residues, which is not only bio-based but also biodegradable
Plastics are versatile materials - hardly any consumer product can do without this durable material. When used for food packaging, plastic not only meets all hygiene requirements, it also enhances shelf life and offers the easy availability of products. However, many high-performance - multilayer - plastic packaging also generate waste and contribute to environmental pollution. Individual polymers cannot be economically recovered from multilayer packaging films for the production of new packaging films. Biodegradable bioplastics as a sustainable alternative have been on the market for several decades. However, their higher price and poorer properties have so far prevented a broad application.
Fraunhofer IWKS has taken up this challenge and offers a new polymer raw material that increases the protective effect of plastic packaging without impairing its recycling or compost properties. It can be combined with both conventional and compostable packaging materials. Instead of using crude oil or biobased raw materials from corn or sugar cane, the researchers obtain their raw materials from large by-product streams in the food industry. In concrete terms, apple pomace is extracted into a hemicellulose product that is suitable for a wide variety of applications thanks to its branched polymer structures: from coatings that screen oxygen and water vapor, for films, trays and bottles made of plastics and natural waxes, to coating and paint systems as well as paper additives or cosmetic articles in which the polymer product can be used to increase tensile strength or adjust flowability and stabilize dispersions and emulsions. The advantage: The raw material is bio-based and biodegradable, does not compete with the food industry, is available in sufficient quantities and can be purchased as a by-product at low cost. The fact that the branched polymer structures can be chemically modified economically and in a variety of ways is fundamental for their application in various material systems.
Project conclusion HyperBioCoat
As part of the EU-funded HyperBioCoat project, the raw material was successfully tested on demonstrators for food and cosmetic packaging. To find out more about the project and the use of hemicellulose as a sustainable polymer raw material, and visit the press conference:
"Functional Biopolymer Coatings from Food Residues. Presentation of the project HyperBioCoat - Advantages and applications of biopolymer coatings, e.g. for food and cosmetic packaging as well as medical devices". The conference will take place on Wednesday, October 16, 2019, at 03:30 pm, Conference Room 19b, Hall 1, K 2019, Messe Düsseldorf. Please register at: email@example.com
Not only replacing critical raw materials, but also recovering them
At K 2019, Fraunhofer IWKS will not only be demonstrating possibilities for substituting raw materials and valuable resources with sustainable alternatives, but also for recovering them. One example is electronic scrap. To date, the plastic fractions have not been or only thermally been recycled as secondary material, as they are difficult to separate efficiently and with a single grade. At Fraunhofer IWKS, the scientists are using electrohydraulic fragmentation and sensor-based sorting, whereby both metal and plastic fractions can be separated from mobile phones for example. This way, high-quality plastics can be recycled.