EuroNanoForum 2015: development of nanotechnology in Europe
Ferran Martн, Head of Research and Development department at AIMPLAS (Spain) presented a new nanostructured flame retardants for thermoplastic materials. He noted that in the manufacture of fire-resistant materials two types of flame retardants are used: halogen flame retardants (HFR) and halogen-free flame retardants (HFFR). The first type is characterized by low price, give flame retardant properties without decreasing mechanical properties and is high-efficient, however, have a significant disadvantage – environmental problems due to furans and dioxins generation during combustion. The HFFR are non-toxic, but are expensive and degrade the mechanical properties of the polymer and increase its weight. AIMPLAS has developed solution that is based on the combination of fire retardant particles with fillers, which improve the properties of the material.
New technology is applied to the production of eco-friendly sandwich panels for the interior of aircrafts. One of the participants of the project is Boeing. New composite panels that are based on renewable polymers and natural fibres will replace the traditional composite materials obtained with the use of phenolic resins and glass fabrics.
Sandwich panels consist of two thin outer layers of durable polypropylene that are reinforced with linen fabric and a lightweight thick core of thermoplastic polymer foam. The fire resistance of polypropylene is improved by the use of a blend of HFFR, nanoclays and graphene. The nanofiller reduces the share of flame retardants by more than 15 %, providing the best mechanical and processing properties of the polymer without compromising fire resistance. The molding under pressure is used in production. Sandwich panels successfully passed the tests of the European aviation safety agency (EASA).
In another project of AIMPLAS the new generation of HFFR are being developed on the basis of nanolayered structures, which consist of phosphates, graphene, modified lignin, and Al-Mg hydroxide. During extrusion and injection moulding an ultrasonic system is used to improve the dispersion of nanoparticles. It is expected that the new flame retardant will reduce the cost and improve the mechanical strength of the fire-resistant polymer composites.
Gert-Jan Gruter, Chief Technology Officer at Avantium (Netherlands), presented a novel 100% biobased polymer packaging material polyethylene furanoate (PEF), which have superior performance over PET. PEF is produced by polymerization of ethylene-glycol and 2,5-Furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), which is obtained from plant based feedstock without the use of petroleum-based monomer by Avantium’s proprietary YXY technology. Besides the production of PEF, FDCA can be used to create a wide range of polymers– polyesters, polyamides and polyurethanes – as well as coating resins, plasticizers and other chemical products.
In addition to the best environmental performance, PEF has the following advantages compared with PET:
better barrier properties;
on 12 єC higher heat distortion temperature;
It is crucial that the PEF-packaging can be manufactured in existing PET assets. Avantium collaborates with the Coca-Cola company, Danone, ALPLA and Wifag//Polytype to start industrial production of PEF-packaging in 2018. ■
To be continued in the next issue of the journal.