Successful tests with forest-based alternatives to plastic

For more than six months, RenCom and MK Plastteknik have been collaborating to produce bio-based materials consisting of more raw material from the forest. Together they have successfully conducted tests on five different mixtures with modified lignin, called Renol.

By using lignin, which is the tree’s natural glue, in bio-based materials such as bioplastics and carbon fibers, the raw material can get a higher value than today. Now it’s often burned at paper mills to produce energy.

Creating lignin-based materials dos not only provide a higher value for the material, but also contribute to a healthier, fossil free environment.

Five mixtures

On the journey to find new fossil free alternatives to today’s plastics, which take hundreds of years to dissolve in nature, RenCom and MK Plastteknik has joined in a collaboration. With RenCom’s material knowledge, and MK Plastteknik’s premises and long experience in producing plastic products, they have tested nwe bio-based materials.

“Successful tests were conducted with five different mixtures. They had different composition and different amounts of Renol, which is RenCom’s modified lignin,” says Robert Gustavsson, project manager for LignoCity2.0, which brought the two companies together.

The tested bioplastics contained 10 to 50 percent lignin.

“At high levels, the material can be too hard for some applications. Therefore, it is important to find a good balance between the material´s area of ​​use and the amount of binding lignin”, explains Robert Gustavsson.

Broad possibilities

“When we carried out the tests, we developed injection molded components. It is the most common method for molding plastic parts. The tests were done to see if the process worked on different lignin-based materials. Possible applications could be interiors in cars or plastic parts for other interiors or electronics”, says Johan Verendel, CTO, of RenCom.

For now, the lignin-based mixtures are not designed for a specific purpose. However, the possibilities and areas for uses are many.