AIMPLAS to improve homogeneity of PLA

By Jenny Eagle contact

- Last updated on GMT

AIMPLAS to improve homogeneity of PLA

Related tags: Extrusion, European union, Plastics industry

The Plastics Technology Center, AIMPLAS, along with 11 enterprises and technological European centers, has launched the InnoREX project, to develop a new technology of PLA (polylactic acid) production.

Financed by the 7th Framework Program funds and coordinated by the German Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT), InnoREX seeks to improve the homogeneity of PLA and exclude the use of metallic catalysts that were necessary until now.

Significant energy savings

The project will use the rapid response time of microwaves, ultrasound and laser light to achieve a precisely-controlled and efficient continuous polymerisation of high molecular weight PLA in a twin screw extruder.

Significant energy savings will be achieved by combining polymerisation, compounding and shaping in one production step.

It is expected to develop a single monolayer packaging that may be processed by polymer processing, the extrusion and injection technology.

To ensure short market entry times commercially well-established co-rotating twin screw extruders will be used as reaction vessels.

The reason commercial polymerisations are not yet carried out in twin screw extruders is the short residence time and the static energy input of the extruder, which allows no dynamic control of the reaction.

The project includes a detailed analysis of the packaging life cycle. The prototype obtained as a result will be a single thin walled monolayer packaging (of a thickness possibly not exceeding a millimeter) intended for the food sector, processed through injection or extrusion to obtain a thermoforming and film packaging to be used when there are demands of lower thickness.

Processability of developed PLA grades

AIMPLAS role within the project is related to the study of processability (injection and extrusion) of developed PLA grades.

Mechanical, physical and thermal characterisation of prepared packages by injection moulding, and extrusion cast-sheet and thermoforming. It will also include an extensive development of additivation strategies.

The project, which started in December 2012, will run until May 2016.

AIMPLAS will also organize a workshop at its premises on October 20, addressed to suppliers of raw materials, end users, researcher centres and universities.

AIMPLAS is a Plastics Technology Centre located in Valencia, with about 500 associated companies (the majority of them SMEs).

AIMPLAS has wide experience in monolayer and multi-layer film extrusion for several applications, e.g. packaging. AIMPLAS pilot plants include facilities for manufacturing up to 5-layer extruded films. Properties such as barrier or structural can be provided to the extruded film by previous optimised compounding.

The project received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 309802.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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