New self-reinforced polylactide (PLA) composite materials
Self-reinforced PLA composite materials, which are being developed within the framework of the "Bio4self" project (funded by the EUs research funding program H2020) open up completely new fields of application for the biobased plastic polylactide, or PLA for short.
The resource-efficient concept, which has significant application potential, won first prize in the "Sustainability" category at JEC 2019, Europe's largest trade fair for composite materials.
In the project, two different PLA types with different melting temperatures are combined to form a self-reinforced PLA composite (PLA SRPC) in such a way that the PLA, with a higher melting point, is embedded as a reinforcing fiber in the matrix. The resulting material stiffness can compete with commercially-available self-reinforced polypropylene (PP) compound materials. This makes it possible to produce mechanically advanced components for the automotive and electrical domestic appliance sectors, among others.
PLA materials are based on renewable resources - so-called lactic acids - which can be obtained from agricultural waste or specially cultivated raw materials such as sugar cane. Although the composite materials developed have been functionalized for high mechanical strength and stiffness as well as high temperature and hydrolysis stability, like pure PLA they are fully biobased, easily recyclable, malleable and even industrially biodegradable. These composite materials, which can be produced on an industrial scale, represent a milestone in the development of functionalized, high-strength, biobased material systems. In addition, the development makes a significant contribution to the recycling economy.