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Soyameal as bioplastics feedstock, high performance polyamide from renewable resources and other developments

Soyameal as bioplastics feedstock, high performance polyamide from renewable resources and other developments

A bioplastic that uses soybean meal in place of petroleum recently developed, could find application in toys and office supplies. Soybean meal is the part left over after the oil has been removed. The idea took seed two years ago, when the Ohio Soybean Council approached Battelle to develop a bioplastic that would put the eco-friendly material into wider use. The Soybean Council funded this project. Biobent blends petroleum-based plastic with between 10% and 40% soyabean meal. The percentage of the cheap soy material varies depending on the performance characteristics required for the product - whether it's a bendable plastic folder, a semi-rigid toy doll or something else. The first two products that Biobent will offer, Biobent PP and Biobent PE, are polypropylene- and polyethylene-based.

Wacker will launch an improved binder for the next generation of bioplastics at K 2013. The VINNEX® binder system enables polymers based on renewable raw materials to be processed just like conventional thermoplastics. The system enhances the physical properties of bioplastics and makes different materials compatible with each other. The binder enables easy processing of so-called biopolymer blends, which can be used to manufacture biodegradable plastics for food packaging and containers. Bioplastics represent promising, sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based products. They are widely manufactured from renewable raw materials and, ideally, are biodegradable. Until now, however, their widespread use was hindered by processing drawbacks compared to conventional thermoplastics. With this vinyl-acetate-based polymer binder system, manufacturers can now develop high-performance blends of bioplastics. These can be processed with conventional equipment without need for modification. VINNEX® makes injection molding, extrusion, vacuum forming, thermoforming and calendering much easier.  The binder is compatible with many biopolymers. Different grades can be combined with one or more biopolyesters and fillers in a modular system. Depending on the application, polylactic acid (PLA), polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), polybutylene succinate (PBS) and starch, for example, can be used to create various polymer blends. This significantly improves the physical properties of biopolymers, which are difficult to process otherwise. Depending on the composition and VINNEX® content, polymer blends have higher impact strengths, are more flexible or have a higher melting strength than conventional biopolymers. The desired properties can thus be adjusted according to the application. Initial tests show that though polylactic acid is a very rigid material, extremely thin films of it can easily produced and also welded more readily. The films retain high transparency after addition of the binder. Another plus is the possibility to use combinations of incompatible biopolymers such as PLA and PBS. The compound achieves the advantages of both components. The binder also enables thermoforming of bioplastics intended for hot filling applications, and has the necessary food certification of the EU and of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for selected VINNEX® grades. VINNEX® opens up an expanding range of applications for biopolymers. For example, the new blends can be processed into food packaging materials, brochures, parts for electronic appliances or self-degradable gardening and agricultural containers.

New advanced polymers have enabled hand-held device designer’s greater freedom so they can continue to refresh the look, feel and upgrade performance, while delivering a better environmental footprint, according to Hand-held Segment Leader Mark Hazel of DuPont Performance Polymers. Hazel identifies the polymer material as DuPont™ Zytel® RS HTN high-performance polyamide – a renewably sourced polymer that has seen a four times growth rate since its introduction just four years ago. Stiffness, strength, low warpage and low moisture pickup combine to help ensure thinner walls for sleek, light designs that improve performance. Derived from sebacic acid, the material affords environmental benefits by replacing petroleum sources with non-food renewable sources. In hand-held electronics applications, one of the major characteristics required in a material is its Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) compatibility. If the material picks up moisture, it changes its RFI characteristics and detunes itself. This means that the battery has to supply more power to the antenna and the battery life suffers as a result. These enhanced materials are less prone to moisture absorption. Hand-held devices dominate the consumer electronics market and make up a significant share of the commercial market too. Within this subset, also which includes laptops, ultrabooks, game controllers and hand-held meters, mobile phones account for a staggering volume of sales. As cell phones have evolved, with larger screens and more powerful electronics, the chassis concept became less attractive functionally, as users wanted the screen size but without the body bulk. Many OEMs therefore steadily reverted to a design where the screen and rear cover act as significant parts of the structure, freeing up much more internal space for the enhanced electronics. This increase in electronic content was part of the driving force behind the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) directive, when it was recognized that level of use of certain materials was unsustainable and that manufacturers had to take some responsibility for the disposal and recycling of devices at the end of their useful life. But many manufacturers also realized that they could tackle other significant sustainability targets by deploying renewably sourced materials, such as Zytel® RS HTN, for both structural and aesthetic elements of the phone's casing. DuPont™ Zytel® HTN is a high-performance polyamide resin that can be used to make thinner, lighter and more durable hand-held device housings while making them longer-lasting and easier to produce. From a processing perspective, Zytel® HTN grades also can save energy, cost and time thanks to its excellent flow and dimensional stability. A halogen-free, flame-retardant grade also is available for compliance with recycling programs for discarded electronic products. Specific grades also are available that can withstand high-temperature circuit assembly methods, including those using lead-free solder.

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