On March 13, 2019, the BIO4SELF concept of a self-reinforced PLA composite material, developed in the European H2020 project, coordinated by Centexbel, received the JEC Innovation Award for Sustainability at the JEC World Composite fair in Paris.
Worldwide, the JEC Innovation Awards are recognized as the most prestigious award for innovating composites.
BIO4SELF has developed biobased and easy-to-recycle self-reinforced composites based on PLA fibres with an inherent high stiffness. As a result, PLA is being upgraded to a material suited for more technical and demanding final applications including automotive and household electronics, and offers possibilities for lots of other applications (sports, transportation, and medical appliances).
Two different PLA grades are required to produce self-reinforced polymer composites or SRPCs: a low melting temperature PLA grade to form the matrix and an ultra-high stiffness and high melting temperature PLA grade to form the reinforcing fibres. Bio4self innovations overcome several challenges related to the production of PLA SRPC: formulation of a moisture/humidity-resistant PLA grade; melt extrusion of ultra-high stiffness PLA reinforcement fibres; development of (consolidation and thermoforming) manufacturing procedures to produce the highest performance SRPC material; and industrial scale-up of production.
- Biobased: composites made from two PLA grades with different melting temperatures
- Performance: high mechanical strength, temperature and hydrolytic stability
- Cost: far below carbon fibre composites, comparable to or even below SR-PP
- Upscalable: using commercially-available materials and industrial equipment
- EoL: re-usable, recyclable or industrially compostable as the composite is made of PLA
As a result, the PLA SRPC developed in Bio4self matches the requirements of current commercial self-reinforced polypropylene (PP) composites. Self-reinforced PLA composites made of 0/90 fabric have a stiffness of 4 GPa, which is comparable to the stiffness achieved by self-reinforced PP, but the PLA SRPC has the advantage of using renewable materials with a better end-of-life perspective.