'Biofoambark' project wins prizes

Published: November 2, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Suppliers

FREIBURG, GERMANY (Nov. 2, 4:15 p.m. ET)  — A project at the Freiburg Materials Research Center which aims to produce insulating foam using extracts from tree bark has won prizes for the scientists involved.

Leader of the project professor Marie-Pierre Laborie from the Faculty of Forest and Environmental Sciences of the University of Freiburg has been named “German High Tech Champion,” by the Fraunhofer Association in the category “Green Buildings.”

Laborie will receive 15,000 euro ($19,500) together with colleagues professors Antonio Pizzi and Alain Celzard from the French Université de Lorraine.

The prize will be awarded at Pollutec 2012, an international trade fair for environmental equipment, technology, and services, being held Nov. 27-30 in Lyon, France.

A statement from the Freiburg center says that Laborie’s research team make hard foams using tannin, a compound found in tree bark, typically left over as a waste product in the lumber industry.

Since the foams have good insulating and flame-resistant properties, they can be used predominantly as insulating material for buildings and moulded automobile parts, claims the center.

Also, the group says, they could be used as catalysts or filters for heavy metals and as a replacement for packaging materials like styrofoam. And Freiburg claims they will “even be useful after the products themselves are worn out,” since a further goal is to convert the foams into biofuel.

“We want to relieve the burden on the environment by increasing the usefulness of wood and offering a marketable alternative to petroleum-based foams,” Laborie said in a statement.

According to the Freiburg center, the foam made in the lab uses tannin, furfuryl alcohol and a solvent, such as diethyl ether, with formaldehyde as a crosslinking agent. “We are still looking for a less environmentally harmful, natural cross-linking agent to replace formaldehyde in the future,” said Ricarda B"hm, a doctoral candidate in Laborie’s research group.

The scientists are trying to use only natural raw materials, and ideally waste products. One interesting candidate is aldehyde furfural, which can be produced from sawdust.

The work also is using natural additives that prevent the foam from crumbling too much, and the foams also can be modified with nanocellulose to improve their mechanical stability, the center said.

The “Biofoambark” work is being supported by the Agency for Renewable Resources with funds from the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection. As well as the University of Freiburg, collaborators on the project include the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg, and scientific and industrial partners in Italy, Spain, Finland, Slovenia, and France.


Comments

'Biofoambark' project wins prizes

Published: November 2, 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