The German company JELU has developed a fully compostable biocomposite for industrial processing. The new material made from polylactides (PLA) and wood fibres is a wood plastic composite (WPC), which can be recycled in composting plants. It is suitable for injection moulding and extrusion on conventional plastics processing machines. Wood plastic composite combines the properties of both wood and plastics: the products are mouldable like plastics and firm like wood.
JELU compounds PLA with wood fibres to form a homogeneous material that consists of 100% renewable resources. In its basic blend, the compound contains 40% PLA and 60% wood fibres. The material is granulated, as the processing of granulates makes it possible to create extremely homogeneous end products. WPC granulate from JELU has consistent running properties on the machine, facilitating a higher output. Compounding also gives the biocomposite a higher density, improving the properties of the material. As a result, products have greater strength and stiffness.
Bioplastic with specific properties
For its wood plastic composites, JELU makes use only of fibres obtained from selected woods that have uniquely defined properties. Only processed fibres that meet certain criteria, such as having a fixed grain size and being of the same type of wood, are used. This allows JELU to reliably set the biocomposite’s physical-mechanical properties to specific values. By means of additives, the characteristics can be varied and adjusted to individual applications. JELU biocomposites fulfil the German standards for use in foods and toys.
Several years ago, JELU developed a process for manufacturing homogeneous biocomposites from plastics, wood fibres and additives. The company produces premixed compounds and manufactures customised WPC granulates with different filler concentrations and alternating additives according to the customers’ needs. JELU offers WCP blends based on polyethylene, polypropylene, thermoplastic starch and other plastics. The fibres are either wood fibres or cellulose fibres.
Source: JELU, press release, 2014-03-03.