Spanish technological centre Andaltec (Martos; www.andaltec.org
) has launched two R&D projects on plastic materials. Both initiatives are funded by the Andalusian government.
Andaltecs site in Martos / Spain (Photo: Andaltec)
The first project, named BioNanocel, aims to develop bio-based active plastic food packaging from cellulose obtained from vegetal biomass. The projects head researcher Jose Rodriguez explained that cellulose the main component of agricultural waste can become the base to synthesise a variety of high added-value products and could also be valuable when applied to the food packaging industry.
Andaltec researchers are already working to synthesise biodegradable and compostable plastics to use in food packaging. They intend to develop a series of final film demonstrators with barrier properties against oxygen, steam, fat and microorganisms that will help to extend the lifespan of the food and improve preservation conditions.
The project will first develop an efficient cellulose extraction and purification system from agricultural waste, such as biomass from olive grove pruning, sunflower harvesting or wood from cotton harvesting. That cellulose will be used to create compounds such as nanocellulose and cellulose acetate, which can eventually be used in plastics to package food.
The second project is Re-composite, which is focused on enhancing recycling rates and revalorising advanced plastic materials based on epoxy resins and high-performance carbon or glass-reinforced fibres from the transport sector, notably aircraft and cars. Re-composite will run for two years, finishing in late 2021.
This project will help to give a higher value to these reinforced polymeric materials, which enjoy some technical properties similar or even better to those of metallic materials. Thanks to the improvement in recycling and reuse derived from this project, we can meet the ever-increasing demand for sustainable compounds, said project head Antonio Calahorro.
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