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Optimización de compuestos de polihidroxibutirato para aplicaciones de envasado


Oferta Tecnológica
Un centro de investigación español con amplia experiencia en procesamiento de plástico ha desarrollado nuevos compuestos termoplásticos basados en polihidroxibutirato (PHB) para fabricar envases. Este compuesto permite mantener las ventanas de procesamiento de biopolímeros y, por lo tanto, si se compara con los polímeros convencionales, supera las limitaciones actuales del PHB relacionadas con las condiciones de procesamiento, como dureza, fragilidad o leve tendencia a la deformación. El centro de investigación busca fabricantes de plástico con el fin de establecer acuerdos de cooperación o comercialización con asistencia técnica.


Polyhydroxybutyrate composites optimization for packaging applications
A Spanish research centre with wide experience in plastic processing has developed new thermoplastic compounds based on Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) to be used in packaging production. This compound allows maintaining processing windows of biopolymers and therefore, compared to conventional polymers, it overcomes the current PHB limitations related to processing conditions. Plastic manufacturers are sought to establish either commercial agreement with technical assistance or technical cooperation.
Traditionally, the development of Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) based composites has some known limitations. Non-optimized parameters such as temperature, screw design, residence time, processing speed and cooling, can lead to piece failure, mainly if the material have a narrow processing window. Among these manufacturing parameters that could provoke a kind of failure, temperature must be highlighted.

PHB is sensitive to high processing temperatures. This leads to a decrease in molar mass as well as lower melt viscosity. The crystallization temperature shifts to lower values and crystallization kinetics is slow. Therefore, high temperatures or residence time can lead to PHB degradation; while, lower temperatures can lead to an un-plasticized material and a high residual stress concentration.

The above mentioned limitations of PHB characteristics should be overcome with the objective of properly use the polymer into the conventional manufacturing processes.

A Spanish research centre with large experience in developing and processing plastic materials, has innovative facilities where to carry out different experiences and scale up them into industrial level.

With the aim of facing the challenges to better manage PHB, the Spanish research centre has developed, in the framework of a 7th framework programme funded project, a method to improve PHB features.

The centre has developed different PHB compounds by using a multi-screw extruder in combination with all the necessary processing additives to protect the polymer degradation and to improve their processability such as antioxidant, plasticizers, release agents, lubricants, nucleants and UV protection.

Working at pilot plant scale, the research centre analyzes the effect of every parameter of the process and blend composition to better determine the improvements to be considered to enhance PHB properties. The following parameters were assessed:
¿ screw configuration (dispersion/distribution elements ratio)
¿ barrel design, points where the different blend components are added
¿ machine parameters, such as temperature and screw speed.
¿ blend composition: percentage of PHB, high compatible plasticizers, coupling agent, protective additives.

When developing the formulation, it must be highlighted the use of additives (suitable to be used in twin-screw extruders and multi-screw extruder) as alternative compounding process. Moreover, it is also important the combination with the most suitable biopolymers to fit with process characteristics and final applications requirements.

The developed method permits to develop functionalized PHB compounds to overcome PHB limitations such as stiffness, brittleness or small tendency to creep. Moreover, it gives PHB material a wider range of possible applications not only in the fields of packaging but also in other product sectors.

The Spanish research centre offers its development to compounder companies and/or plastic materials manufacturing companies that would be interested in:
- New compounds with superior mechanical and physical properties.
- Sustainable applications for non-food packaging.
- Competitive material to substitute non-biodegradable polymers for bottles.
- Ecological benefits derived from using a biodegradable material coming from agro-industrial by-products.

Commercial agreement with technical assistance or technical cooperation would be the agreements that could be established. The aim of these agreements is to help companies in the development of new PHB biopolymers that suit their specific requirements and result in a competitive product.
Advantages and Innovations:
The main advantages of the development carried out in the frame of the European project are:

- The developed method permits to develop functionalized PHB compounds to overcome PHB limitations such as stiffness, brittleness or small tendency to creep.

- Enhanced properties. Depending on the packaging material use, specific additives are selected to protect the polymer from degradation and enhance its processing.

- Optimization of the Biopolymer compounds Production. PHB composition is adapted and optimized to get the best processing performance and suitable final properties.

- Biodegradability assurance. To maintain the final compound biodegradable by formulating the original PHB with other biopolymers. In this way, "biodegradability tag" of the final formulation is ensured.

- Ecological benefits derived from using a biodegradable material coming from agro-industrial by-products. Reduction of the carbon foot print (the percentage would depend on the composition).
Stage of Development:
Already on the market
Secret Know-how

Partner sought

Type and Role of Partner Sought:
Type of partner sought: Compounder companies and/or plastic materials manufacturing companies

Specific field of activity: plastic materials, packaging

Role of the sought partner: Companies are expected to take advantage of the developed methodology to design PHB compounds that suit their specific requirements (production and final product characteristics).


Type and Size of Client:
R&D Institution
Already Engaged in Trans-National Cooperation:
Languages Spoken:


Technology Keywords:
08001003 Empaquetado / manipulación de alimentos
02005004 Empaquetado de materiales
02007014 Plastics, Polymers