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Green Materials: NEC launches cellulosic bioplastic; Lanxess PA range features fibres from waste glass

NEC launches cellulosic bioplastic

Japanese firm NEC Corporation's wholly owned subsidiary NEC Platforms has begun global sales of NeCycle cellulosic, a bioplastic that contains approximately 50% non-edible plant ingredients and biodegrades in natural environments in approximately four years. NeCycle is made up of cellulose, a non-edible plant resource obtained from woods, rice straw, etc., and safe ingredients, while featuring environmentally friendly properties, such as long-term degradability in the ocean, and having durability that is applicable to a wide range of products. NEC has an accomplished record of researching and developing this material, and is now beginning mass production and sales of this material through NEC Platforms.

NEC was among the first organisations to begin addressing problems associated of waste with plastics, and has been developing alternative materials since the early 2000s.

Recently, NEC Platforms succeeded in mass production of NeCycle by making improvements to its properties such as durability and establishing a manufacturing and quality assurance system. NEC Platforms will propose optimal component shapes, moulding conditions, and mould designs for NeCycle, while expanding sales of pellets and moulded components for interior products, automotive products, and office automation equipment that emphasise environmental and decorative properties. First, NEC Platforms will start with products that require a high level of added value and environmental friendliness, while planning expansion of business scale and aiming for annual sales of US$46 million in FY2025.

NeCycle expresses black colors that are deep and warm, similar to lacquer, and have a high-grade feeling without going through the coating process, says the firm. Since the coating process is no longer necessary, the degree of flexibility of product shape and mass productivity are improved.

Lanxess PA range features fibres from waste glassa

Meanwhile, in other news, German specialty chemicals company Lanxess is increasingly making use of recycled raw materials in the production of its thermoplastic compounds and composites. Its Durethan ECOBKV30H2.0, ECOBKV35H2.0 and ECOBKV60XF are the most recent examples of products made in line with this strategy.

Recycled fibres manufactured from waste glass make up 30%, 35% and 60% by weight respectively of these three new polyamide (PA) 6 compounds. Ecocycle, an independent inspection company, has examined the amount of recycled material in each compound and the long-term use of the glass waste stream using the mass balance method and awarded an ecoloop certificate in accordance with ISO 14021:2016. The glass comes from waste left over from glass fibre production (post-industrial recycling).

The mass balance approach is derived from an initiative launched by the non-profit Ellen MacArthur Foundation and is employed by companies around the world, including a number of plastic producers, for chemical recycling of post-industrial and post-consumer waste. With this process, recycled raw materials are incorporated into production together with the petrochemical or mineral feedstocks commonly used otherwise and then arithmetically allocated to the end product. The basic principle is similar to the way in which environmentally friendly electricity or gas is fed into the electricity grid or gas network. The amount of sustainably produced energy in the electricity grid rises with demand, although it is not possible to make any physical distinction between the sources of energy at single-household level.

One point in the mass balance method’s favoUr is that the characteristics of the finished product – such as a PA compound reinforced with recycled waste glass fibres – are identical to those of virgin quality material. In other words, using the method does not mean sacrificing any product characteristics.

Lanxess’s High Performance Materials (HPM) business unit’s primary target for the three new compounds is the automotive industry, suitable for manufacturing structural components such as front ends, pedal bearing brackets and A, B and C-pillars, as well as lightweight battery trays for electric vehicles.

HPM is going to be gradually increasing the number of ECO product types certified in accordance with the mass balance method. For example, it is planning to launch a new PA6 with a glass fibre content of 30% and a reduced carbon footprint. The caprolactam required to produce this more environmentally friendly PA6 is based on a selection of petrochemical raw materials which support this concern.

HPM is not currently using waste glass fibres from end-of-life components (known as post-consumer recycling), but does view them as a particularly sustainable raw material for use in manufacturing new glass fibres. After all, they do offer similar benefits as the domestic collection and recycling of glass containers, which have been practiced successfully for quite some time. Waste glass melts at lower temperatures than the raw materials used in manufacturing glass fibres. It therefore makes it possible to save energy and thus lower CO2 emissions.“


(IMA)


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