Svit, March 1, 2016 – The Company Chemosvit Fibrochem a.s., is part of the newly approved Horizon 2020 project BIO4SELF. Within this innovation project, Chemosvit Fibrochem a.s. will, as part of a European consortium, contribute to the development of novel PLA materials for composites.
The worldwide demand for replacing fossil-based raw materials for the production of polymers leads to a significant growth of bioplastics in terms of technological developments.
An assessment done by the European Commission has indicated that bio-based products and biofuels represent approximately € 57 billion in annual revenue and involve 300,000 jobs. According to the forecasts, the bio-based share of all chemical sales will rise to 22 % by 2020, with a compounded annual growth rate of close to 20 %.
Left: Expected Biotech Sales (Source: McKinsey). Right: graph showing the expected “biobased” employment growth (Source: Nova Institute).
However, there still exist drawbacks that prevent the wider use and commercialisation of biobased material. Two important ones:
- Lower mechanical performance: although PLA can already replace conventional materials (like polyester) for quite some applications, its limited mechanical strength is still hampering commercial application.
- Limited durability: for application with long lifetime, PLA is not optimal yet due to its limited hydrolytic stability.
Enhancement of these properties remains an important challenge for biobased polymers. There is a need to develop biobased, sustainable polymeric materials with high stiffness, high impact and high durability without impairing recyclability.
The BIO4SELF project will tackle these drawbacks and aims for unprecedented stiffness by combining PLA (the largest used biopolymer) with a bio-LCP (Liquid Crystalline Polymer) to create an extra reinforcement level. Furthermore, the temperature resistance of PLA and its durability will be improved. The latter via adding well-chosen anti-hydrolysis agents. Further, inherent self-functionalization via photocatalytic polymers (self-cleaning properties), tailored microcapsules (self-healing) and deformation detection fibres (self-sensing) will be added.
The potential of the biobased materials will be proven in advanced prototypes for automotive and home appliances. Cost-efficient production of fully biobased composites meeting the demand for high technical performances and sustainability will be pursuit by investigating the performances of new biobased materials in plastic manufacturing. To reach this goal, the whole value chain will be considered within BIO4SELF (see figure below).
From PLA raw material to actual products – an overview of the BIO4SELF project scope.
CHEMOSVIT FIBROCHEM a.s. will contribute to the BIO4SELF project as a technology leader, who will participate in the development and production of PLA fibers with a high melting point to achieve the highest possible strength. Our task will be spinning and drawing of fibers on an industrial scale.
The BIO4SELF consortium is strongly industry driven, including 5 large enterprises and 5 SMEs. These are completed with 3 universities and 3 research centres. This way BIO4SELF covers all required expertise and infrastructure from academic, applied research and industry from 10 different EU countries (for a detailed overview of the consortium, see next page).
BIO4SELF is an H2020 project, meaning that it is co-funded by the European Union (grant of 6.8 million €). It will last 40 months and started on March 1st, 2016. It is coordinated by Centexbel, the Belgian research centre for textiles and plastics.
CHEMOSVIT FIBROCHEM a.s.
Svit, Slovak Republic