Biofoams

Currently, bio-plastics gain more and more attention in polymer research. Nevertheless, the definition of bio-plastics is somehow blurred since it covers materials that are (i) derived in whole or in part from biomass resources (bio-based) and are both renewable and biodegradable making them sustainable materials; as well as materials (ii) made out of renewable resources but are not biodegradable, such as some commodity plastics. Anyhow, fossil resources can be preserved.

The department of “Polymer Engineering” is currently focused on Polylactide (PLA). Here, the raw material can be obtained by the microbial fermentation of starch from renewable sources like corn. Another research field of the department are Wood Plastic Composites (WPC), which are lightweight recyclable materials with high strength-to-weight ratios properties created by the combination of thermoplastic polymers with wood fibers.

PLA has high potential since it is bio-based and biodegradable. Furthermore it offers relative good mechanical properties. Processing this material in foam extrusion could be interesting especially for packaging since it would offer a new chance regarding the waste problematic. At the same time, this is advantageous from the processing point of view because PLA owes a very low melt strength, which is a drawback for foam processes. Therefore, the department investigates and try to evaluate different modifications to increase the foamability and to improve the foam morphology.

In the case of WPC, the advantages of using natural reinforcements are: (i) production of lightweight materials, (ii) enhancement of properties such as deformation resistance, (iii) diminish of price, (iv) bio-based share and (v) easier to recycle. In addition, this department is studying the production of green composites foams by combining biopolymers and natural fibers and thus creating sustainable materials for future engineering applications.

Contact: M.Sc. Tobias Standau
Phone: +49 921 5574-40
Fax: +49 921 5574-73
Email: tobias.standau@uni-bayreuth.de