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High-performance composite based on biomass

By Tetsuo Satoh |

Polylactic acid (PLA) is a versatile biopolymer, but its applications are somewhat limited due to its brittleness. Now, an alternative bio-based composite material has been developed that overcomes this limitation. Developed by the industry-university consortium of Hitachi Zosen Corp. (HITZ; Osaka City, www.hitachizosen.co.jp and Osaka University, under the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO; Kawasaki City, all Japan; www.nedo.go.jp), the composite is made by dynamically cross-linking and combining PLA with 10–30 wt.% of trans-polyisoprene, which is derived from the non-edible biomass of Eucommia, a tree native to China whose bark is used for medicines. The material has an impact resistance value approximately 16–25 times greater than commercially available PLA. The elongation, one of the tensile properties, has also been drastically improved by a factor of approximately 9–30 times. It is expected that this biomass-derived composite material will be used as resins for 3-D printing, which has a growing global market for use in automobile interiors and components that normally are made in molding processes. Other potential applications include bio-based sporting goods, office equipment and medical…
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