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The first prototypical application of the self-reinforced composites based on PLA fibres presented by Bio4Self is a hybrid seat structure.
The first prototypical application of the self-reinforced composites based on PLA fibres presented by Bio4Self is a hybrid seat structure.

This year the annual Global Bioplastics Award was given to Bio4Self (16 partner companies form the European Union) for their self-reinforced composites based on PLA fibres, which open up completely new fields of application for PLA.

Biobased and easy-to-recycle self-reinforced composites based on PLA fibres with an inherent high stiffness, which are being developed within the framework of the Bio4self project funded by the European Research Fund H2020.

The international consortium involves the participation of Centexbel (Zwijnaarde, Belgium), Fraunhofer ICT (Pfinztal, Germany), the Institute of Textile Technology of the RWTH Aachen and 13 other partners.

In the Bio4Self project, two different PLA grades are required to produce self-reinforced polymer composites (SRPC): a low melting temperature PLA grade to form the matrix and an ultra-high stiffness and high melting temperature PLA grade to form the reinforcing fibres.

Michael Thielen and Guy Buyle (Cetexbel, representing Bio4self).Bio4self innovations overcome several challenges related to the production of PLA SRPC: formulation of a moisture/humidity-resistant PLA grade; melt extrusion of ultra-high stiffness PLA reinforcement fibres; development of (consolidation and thermoforming) manufacturing procedures to produce the highest performance SRPC material; and industrial scale up of production.

Self-reinforced PLA composites made of 0/90 fabric have a stiffness of 4 GPa, which is comparable to the stiffness achieved by self-reinforced PP, but the PLA SRPC has the advantage of using renewable materials with a better end-of-life perspective.

The composites are designed for high mechanical strength and rigidity as well as high temperature and hydrolytic stability. In addition, it is fully biobased, easily recyclable, formable and industrially biodegradable.

As a result, PLA is being upgraded to a material suited for more technical and demanding final applications including automotive and household electronics, and offers possibilities for lots of other applications (sports, transportation, and medical appliances).

As the first prototypical application of the material, the partners presented a hybrid seat structure.

Second and third prizes

The new splint made of PLA for immobilizing bone fractures.
The second prize went to Nölle Kunststofftechnik and Fraunhofer IAP (both Germany), for their new splint for bone fractures, and the third prize went to Carbiolice (France) for their enzymatic masterbatch to make PLA home compostable.

The splint made of PLA for immobilizing bone fractures can be repeatedly reshaped during treatment, such as, for example, when the swelling subsides. This is another sophisticated example for innovative applications with PLA.

For the new masterbatch, it accelerates the natural PLA biodegradation process, making it suitable for home composting.

The trophy was again made entirely from bioplastics. It was 3D-printed from different PLA/PHA based compounds filled with wood and different metal powders fillers.

The prize was awarded by the trade journal bioplastics MAGAZINE to the winning consortium, represented by Centexbel, during the 14th European Bioplastics Conference in Berlin, Germany.

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