Natural Fibre Reinforce (bio)plastic PDF Print E-mail

In the 90s, European countries began to focus on recovering, reusing and recycling automobile materials and spare parts, especially on glass-fibre reinforced plastic parts which are widely used but difficult to recycle. With financial support from the UN and EU, the Wageningen University of the Netherlands commenced research on the development of natural fibre reinforced polymers. The result was the invention of the technology to produce natural fibre reinforced plastic granules which became a registered patent in the late 90s. A few years later GreenGran was founded as a spin-out company, aiming at production, marketing and sales of natural fibre reinforced (bio)plastic granules for injection moulding applications.

Using sustainable and renewable natural plant fibres (such as flax, jute, hemp and kenaf) and through industrial production techniques that mix them into plastics, GreenGran’s granules are made from the combination of these natural fibres with polypropylene, thus reducing the use of petroleum products. Five times stiffer and 2.5 times stronger than polypropylene, it will not cause wear and tear to the screw and the mould like glass fibres do, and unlike glass fibres, it does not pose safety and health risks. Its recoverable component comes from these natural plants and can occupy over half of its weight, up to 80 percent. All these features make it suitable for the production of durable products.

To list out the many advantages of our granules: good insulation, dimensional stability at high temperatures, high thermal deformation temperature, flame retardant, impermeability, possessing a stiffness and strength similar to traditional glass fibre filled polypropylene, can withstand long machine resistance time, low water absorption rate, high resistance to UV radiation and demonstrates normal flow behaviour, making it the best substitute for glass-reinforced plastic.

For a material to be genuinely environmentally friendly, its entire production process should be a closed system. The waste released by each production process should be usable in the next process, forming a cradle-to-cradle production cycle. In addition, as the raw materials of GreenGran’s natural plastic come from plants and petrochemicals, the whole product can be collected and reused.

Lab figures showed that GreenGran natural fibre reinforced polymers products can be reused as many as seven times. Even when the product has reached the end of its life cycle, it can be collected and made into energy pellets for electricity generation, during which only water and carbon dioxide will be released when combusted.

To promote its granules, last year GreenGran moved from innovation to commercialization. It shared its technology and partnered with Bio-Natural Technology Co., Ltd. to form GreenGran BN (HK) Limited in Hong Kong, from where its industrial production was established. The granules are currently produced for a range of applications in automobiles, construction materials, packaging, toys and electronic products.

Custom made orders are also available to cater for clients’ products. The type and amount of natural fibres can be adjusted to manufacture products of different features and appearances.

Apart from conventional industrial usages, GreenGran is initiating researches to apply its bio-based materials in innovative applications. Among them is a partnership with Anome; in co-operation with Dutch Waterworks (ITC), Havenbedrijf Rotterdam and Boskalis, 35,000 protective blocks made from GreenGran granules were placed on riverbanks and dams to prevent riverbank erosion. Experiments have shown great results. As GreenGran materials can be made of biodegradable plastics too, they will decompose in a specified time period during which no harmful substances will be released, making it ideal for different areas of application.

“We care a lot – care for the environment, care for our clients’ economic return, care for products/market combinations and care for a sustainable supply chain. GreenGran is solution- and service driven, our aim is to create a transition from the oil-based economy to the bio-based economy,” said Martin Snijder, founder and CEO at GreenGran B.V.

** Source: MaterialsViews.com by Martin Grolms published 0n 2010-05-09

For the detailed information about Wageningen University and Research Centre, their Products from Natural Fibre Compositess and the operations of GreenGran, please refer to following links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wageningen_University_and_Research_Centre

http://www.agrofibrecomposites.com/products.htm

http://www.greengran.com/index.htm

 

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