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Research in new biomass-based composites from renewable resources with improved properties for vehicle parts moulding (ECOplast)
Start date: Jun 1, 2010, End date: May 31, 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The main objective of the project is the development of new biomass-based composites validated for the automotive industry by means of the adaptation of base biopolymers and the generation of new ones, using innovative treatments for fibre reinforcements and the additivation of the base polymer with novel fillers and nanofillers. The principal research line will be focused on the adaptation of available biopolymers (PLA, PHB) and the creation of a new protein-based biopolymer (SELP) for its use as the base matrix to be able to meet automotive standard requirements. To achieve that advance, it is indispensable to improve the thermal characteristics of these polymers, the hydrolysis resistance, the dimensional stability and the volatile emission. Therefore, this project will develop several new reinforcements and novel additives like nanofillers, mineral fillers and treated natural fibres (nanocellulose) to be compounded with these base polymers in order to create new biocomposites. Accordingly, it will be used: a. Nanofillers to increase the thermal resistance. b. Natural fibres and nanocellulose to enhance the dimensional stability and the mechanical resistance. c. Mineral fillers to reduce the moisture absorbency. Another important goal in this project is the adaptation of conventional processing techniques (polymers compounding, injection moulding and thermoforming), widely used in the automotive industry, and the design of new ones tailored to these biocomposites. The challenge here will be to overcome the problem of degradation because of the extreme thermal conditions and the moisture absorbency.
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