Düsseldorf, Germany — There were 18 different German Fraunhofer institutes exhibiting at K 2019, most of them focusing on sustainable solutions.
For example, Potsdam-Golm, Germany-based Fraunhofer IAP Institute for Applied Polymer Research addresses alternative means of producing carbon fibers.
Carbon fiber is traditionally produced by carbonization of nonmelting solution spun polyacrylnitrile (PAN) fiber precursors at around 1,600° C (2,912° F). But IAP's solvent-free ComCarbon technology makes melt-spun PAN copolymer fibers at around 60 percent lower cost.
IAP works on natural fiber-based precursors such as hemi-cellulose, glucan, lignin (CarbaCell process) and a "green" carbon fiber spun and converted at IAP.
IAP's process post-treats the fibers in an ultrahigh temperature oven for a few seconds at 2,700-2,900° C (4,892-5,252° F). This stretches the fibers, causing them to align along the fiber axis.
IAP has also worked on biofunctional polymers by integrating active enzymes into polyethylene, as well as developing plastic cell culture plates with a freeze-dried glycopolymer coating for cultivation and detachment of mammalian cells.
Other sustainability-focused exhibits at K 2019 included:
• Fraunhofer ICT Institute for Chemical Technology showed examples of two different directions in development of automotive hybrid passenger car seat backrests.
One of these involves use of recycled carbon-fiber-reinforced nylon 6 sheet, with a direct long-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic compound applied for tailored selective reinforcement and steel connection structures.
The other approach is the Bio4Self project's use of bio-based self-reinforcing polylactide sheet with tailored application of PLA compound for selective reinforcement, again along with steel connection structures.