Biocarbon to enhance biopolymer properties

A lot of research has been done on biodegradable polymers. However, plastics are usually not only made from polymers, but also mixed with other materials (additives), which are essential for the production and performance. Biobased solutions for these additives are lacking, but are urgently needed.

Sustainable performance enhancing additives

Nuts2 is contributing to this project that investigates how we can develop and demonstrate new sustainable additives with improved properties. The project specifically focusses on  garden and agricultural applications such as plant pots or farm film plastic.

Alternatives for plastic are needed

Plastic litter is a major concern in our current society. As part of the solution to solve this problem, the EU has banned a number of single-use consumer products and fossil polymers starting 2021. The list of prohibited products is expected to be expanded, for example with one-way, non-compostable plastics in horticulture and agriculture. This means that alternatives for these products need to be developed such as biodegradable polymers with sustainable additives such as biocarbon.

Biocarbon as a sustainable additive

Biocarbon (Biochar) is a carbon-rich, fine-grained solid that can be produced by thermochemical processes such as pyrolysis and gasification. This natural product is currently used to produce energy, but recent research indicates that it has great potential to improve the properties of biopolymers. The biocarbon biopolymer composite can provide a much needed, fully sustainable solution.

Agricultural and horticultural applications

This would be of particular interest in agricultural and horticultural applications, as biocarbon has been shown to be effective in retaining water and water-soluble nutrients and to increase the activity of micro-organisms in the soil. Biocarbon biocomposites can also be used in other markets where sustainability is essential, including packaging and disposable consumer items.

The BioADD project investigates the effects of biocarbon addition on the biopolymer processing and properties and the possible applications of the biocomposite materials but also look at  environmental and economic benefits

Complementary team

The BioADD consortium consists of 9 industrial partners, a trade association and 3 research partners. The partner companies form a complementary team, including biomass suppliers, producers of pyrolysis technology and companies that produce products for the relevant markets of horticulture, agriculture and packaging. The results of the project lead to concrete business opportunities for each of the companies. The support of Avans University of Applied Sciences, University of Groningen and Eindhoven University of Technology is essential in developing the knowledge and the first product development that makes the innovation possible.

Do you want to know more about this project?

Please contact Qian Zhou, Project leader BioADD BioADD is a “RAAK-mkb project” from Regieorgaan SIA.

Program partners

Avans University of Applied Science /CoE BBE (coordinator)
University of Groningen
Eindhoven University of Technology
Rodenburg Biopolymers
Plastica thermoforming
NPSP Composites
Robertson Packaging Solutions
Oerlemans Plastics