Assignment: Development of PHA compounds (compounding/extrusion) with improved properties, injection moulding of the different compounds, analysing the different compounds by tensile tests, spiralflow tests, DSC, & TGA etc.
Starting date: September 2023
Experience: experience with polymer processing and testing is not required but handy.
Information about the project:
The goal of this project is to create a marine degradable composite thermoplastic material using Poly-Hydroxy-Alkanoates (PHA), that will be used for the product BESE-elements*. This product is a 3-dimensional grid system designed for use in the restoration of marine ecosystems. PHA will be the base for blends using Talc, flourplast (thermoplastic starch) and PHBV. Of the created blends the physical properties will be mapped and compared to those of proposed reference materials. The main focus of this research is to modify the physical properties of a developed PHA compound so that it is injection moldable, in such a way that it does not hinder marine degradability.
With the help of indicative life cycle assessments of the product in question and information gathered on the developed composite material, a market evaluation is performed to determine market potential.
Deteriorating marine environments can be fixed by implementing a structure into the environment to protect the vulnerable parts allowing the ecosystem to repair itself. Rodenburg Biobased institute (together with a consortium of partners) developed a three-dimensional solid grid called the BESE-elements*. This grid serves as an artificial mussel bed, on which mussels can safely grow while being protected from outside influences. These structures are currently made from a potato starch based polymer (Solanyl) and are being used in the Wadden sea as mussel beds.
However, the BESE-elements could also be used for the restoration of ecosystems such as coral reefs, wetlands, and mangroves. Studies have shown that it takes about 3 to 5 years to restore and establish marine ecosystems such as these. Therefore, the 3D-grid has to be made from a marine degradable material that can withstand the marine environments in the short term, but also degrade within the 5 years. It is known that PHA is a marine degradable polymer and it is also commercially available. The challenge is injection molding such a complex form such as the three-dimensional grid BESE-elements. Commercially available PHA does not posses the material properties required to injection mold such a product. This project will focus on developing a thermoplastic composite using PHA as base material with improved flow properties such that it can be applied for the BESE-elements structure.
Contact: Betty Oostenbrink
Research Location: Breda