VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland is developing an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative for polystyrene from the bioplastic polylactic acid and looking for partners in the project.
VTT, based in Otaniemi, Finland, is investigating methods of foaming bioplastics to make beads that are further refined into products such as insulation sheets, using methods typical in the expanded PS manufacturing processes.
While there are existing methods to foam PLA, those systems are expensive. VTT wants to find a process that can compete with EPS on price and performance.
Up to 6 million metric tons of EPS are produced per year, and VTT claimed that it often ends up in landfills or is disposed of by burning, which results in compounds that are hazardous to health.
VTT plans to take its development work closer to industrial processing and to proceed from laboratory work to factory testing.
The company is seeking collaborators from existing EPS producers.
The firm will be looking for new and more efficient production methods to enable the manufacturing of affordable products. VTT is also developing a process for PLA based on extrusion foaming, in order to replace EPS in traffic and packaging applications.