AIMPLAS participated in the final meeting of the European project ECOplast, which took place on the 7th and the 8th of May at CTAG, (Automotive Technological Center of Galicia). This project, which started in June 2010, will finish on 31st of May, having obtaining its main aim: getting a material from renewable resources with the performances required to be introduced in a car.
The processing and cost of the new materials have been key aspects during the project, taking into account the traditional production processes used in the automotive sector, like injection moulding and thermoforming, as well as other alternative production methods. During the four-year duration of the project, the ECOplast partners have been analyzing different mixtures and processes. Specifically, AIMPLAS has developed composites based on PHB (polyhydroxybutyrate, from microbial synthesis) reinforced with mats and fabrics of natural fibers, obtaining improved mechanical properties respect to the materials used nowadays in applications in the interior of car.
Due to this development, PHB is closer to be introduced to cars, and is it already suitable for other uses. In addition, a material based on PLA (polylactic acid, from starch) additivated with nanoclays has been developed. It complies with all the requirements to be part of a piece of the interior of the car. Other advances in innovative materials have been carried out. An example of this is the PBP (a synthesized polymer using proteins from the silk) which has been successfully synthesized and scaled. This last material, which is not yet in the market, has very interesting properties for other kind of industries.
The relationship established between the 13 partners of ECOplast, Universities, R+D centers, manufacturers of raw materials, converters and industrial companies, from five different nationalities (Spain, Portugal, Germany, Netherlands and Finland), will create new collaborations and international projects according to the new materials. The ECOplast ‘Research Project in new biomass-based composites from renewable resources with improved properties for vehicle parts moulding’ has been co-funded by the the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union, within the NMP call (Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials & new Production Technologies) in 2009.