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Forest Resource Sustainability through Bio-Based-Composite Development (FORBIOPLAST)
Start date: 01 Jul 2008, End date: 30 Jun 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"The forest biomass represents an abundant, renewable, no-food competition and low cost resource that can play an alternative role to petro-resources. In spite of positive experimental results industrial production and marketing of materials derived from renewable resources are rarely achieved because of high processing costs and low properties of final products usually targeted to single use sectors devoted to very low costs polymer. Aims of the present proposal are the differentiate utilizations of forest raw resources or by-products of forest connected industry for the production of eco-compatible foams and composites suitable for many practical applications with particular attention at the packaging, agriculture and automotive sectors. One topic of the research activity will be focused on the use of wood and paper mill by-products (bark, chips, sawdust, and black liquor) as raw materials for the production of polyurethane foams by an innovative sustainable synthetic process with reduced energy consumption. Wood fibres can be used as natural fillers to replace synthetic and glass fibres in composites production. Loading of wood fibres is limited by difficult compatibility with hydrophobic polymers. Research activity will be devoted to the production of composites based on wood fibres with biodegradable polymeric matrices (polylactic acid, polycaprolactone, polyhydroxyalkanoates, materbi, etc) and with polypropylene. A high fibres loading content will be achieved by increasing polymeric matrices toughness. Forest waste valorisation will be achieved by microbiological process. Materials production will be valuated by life cycle assessment and final products will be tested for biodegradation and composting. Composites will be as well evaluated for applications in agriculture, packaging and automotive (textile, panels, interior components). Research activity will be developed in strict cooperation with industries with particular reference to the end users."
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