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Development of crosslinked flexible bio-based and biodegradable pipe and drippers for micro-irrigation applications (HYDRUS)
Start date: 01 Jul 2009, End date: 30 Jun 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"The Southern Accession countries and Southern EU countries use the largest percentages of abstracted water for agriculture (75 % and 50 %, respectively), primarily for irrigation. This means consume of 120.000 Millions of m3/year of water. The use of micro irrigation system can reduce the water consume in near 60%, i.e., reduction in consume of 70.000 millions of m3/year. Furthermore, this market is expected to grow quickly due to new water regulations in the near future (due to the worrying problems of the desertification and longer periods of drought).Despite the benefits that the micro-irrigation systems present, there are some limitations that burden its use by the farmers: a).High cost to remove the product at the end of its useful life (even higher in combination with mulching system) and b). Non recyclable pipes due to its conditions of use the material losses its mechanical properties by the effect of UV radiation, is chemically attacked and has contaminants. The aim is to develop plastic pipes and drippers for micro-irrigation produced with bio-based and biodegradable material which will maintain their functional properties during lifespan and at the same time biodegrade after use without the need to remove and dispose. HYDRUS approach will consist on two-step process:1.Reactive extrusion: A low module biopolymer and/or polymeric plasticisers and graft coupling agents will be added to the current PLA, using a compounding multi screw extruder.2.Extrusion pipe line+ crosslinking(standard equipment): Addition of organosilanes or peroxides to the previous blend (PLA + additives) and production of the pipe. The same process will be applied for the drippers with standard injection moulding machines. The new pipe will show Good thermal,Environmental Stress Cracking and flexural resistance, in addition to this,the drip will also meet the dimensional stability,fulfilling therefore the requirements needed in normal conditions for traditional micro-irrigation systems"
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