Iowa State University expanding bio-container research

By Frank Antosiewicz
Correspondent

Published: May 8, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Suppliers, NPE 2012

ORLANDO, FLA. (May 8, 1:15 p.m. ET) — After displaying its bio-based plant containers at NPE2012 in Orlando, Iowa State University biopolymers and biocomposites researchers returned home to make up another 6,000 pots for beta testing this summer.

“We shipped them to 10 different vendors for beta testing,” said David Grewell, head of the research team and an associate professor of agriculture and biosystems engineering at Iowa State in Ames, Iowa.

The small containers, produced from natural proteins, carbohydrates, oils and low-cost natural fibers, can be used to replace petroleum-based containers and will degrade harmlessly when planted in a garden, he said. One other advantage is that the protein-based containers also fertilize the soil as they degrade. 

Mike Kessler, an associate professor of material science and engineering, is leading the project that uses lignin, a byproduct of the wood-pulping process. His group is chemically modifying and blending the lignin with biopolymers such as polylactic acid resin.

The material is being developed for wind energy, but has potential in other industries, such as automotive, where stronger and lighter parts are needed for weight reduction.

Iowa State’s research group also is working on a “polymers environmental calculator,” a Web-based application to help determine the economic viability of bioplastics. The app should be ready June 1, Grewell said. The group also is putting together a video to illustrate how to use the program. The video is aimed at resin producers, manufacturers and end users.

The calculator will allow users to compare processing costs, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to find a plastic that minimizes costs and environmental impact. It will look at the direct costs of 12 common petroleum and bio-based plastics and allow for data from other plastics.

The team is partnering with Clinton, Mass.-based manufacturer Nypro Inc. and M-Base Engineering + Software GmbH, an Aachen, Germany-based data management software company, to make the application available to the plastics industry.

Related workshops

Iowa State University in Ames is hosting a biopolymers and biocomposites workshop Aug. 14 to help researchers and industry representatives develop products made from biomass.

The workshop will focus on formulating protein-based poly­­mers, vegetable oil polymers, adhesives, composites and poly­esters through fermentation. It will also cover processing technologies such as injection molding, extrusion, compression molding and casting.

The day will conclude with  tours of Iowa State’s bioscience and manufacturing facilities, including a polymer-characterization labora­tory and a technology-transfer pilot plant.

The workshop is part of three days of events at Iowa State. A workshop on plastics manufacturing technical resources will be held Aug. 13, while on Aug. 15, a conference is scheduled on bioplastic container systems for crops.

 

 


Comments

Iowa State University expanding bio-container research

By Frank Antosiewicz
Correspondent

Published: May 8, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Asia to remain chemical giant but US shale will bring competition

July 23, 2014 1:00 pm ET

A new IHS Chemical report on global spending for chemical production predicts capacity additions will peak in 2014 at $120 billion and then will...    More

Image

DuPont quarterly sales drop, income rises

July 23, 2014 12:46 pm ET

DuPont Co.'s sales and net income experienced slight changes for the second quarter 2014, as operating earnings dropped to $1.17 per share in the...    More

Image

Celanese to expand production in Brazil

July 23, 2014 11:15 am ET

Celanese Corp., the Irving, Texas-based chemicals and specialty materials company, has announced that it will expand its manufacturing capabilities...    More

Image

Plastics help designers bring home the gold

July 22, 2014 2:15 pm ET

Products with polymer content received multiple gold recognitions in the 2014 International Design Excellence Awards.    More

Image

Munson Machinery expanding assembly, testing operations

July 22, 2014 2:02 pm ET

Munson Machinery Co. Inc. is expanding its headquarters factory by about one-third in Utica, N.Y., where the company makes mixing, blending and size-r...    More

Market Reports

Injection Molders Market Report & Ranking 2014

This special package contains our 132-page 2014 Market Report on the Injection Molding segment and our exclusive 2014 RANKINGS database of 500+ Injection Molders for a discounted package price.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Market Review & Outlook 2014

This special report from Plastics News examines the North American plastics recycling industry and provides insight into indicators that impact market viability, including Resin pricing trends for virgin and recycled market material and historical Resin production trends for post- consumer and industrial waste.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events