The ReBioFoam Project: Innovative Packaging
Officially launched on 1st February 2009, the ReBioFoam project (Renewable Bio-polymer FOAMs), a 4-year research project targeting the development of a new biobased and biodegradable biopolymer foam to be applied as a protective packaging solution alternative to expanded materials of synthetic origin, presented its results, during the international conference that has taken place in Novara, Italy, in the Lecture Hall of Faculty of Economics, at the presence of the representatives of the European Commission and of the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research.
Financed by the European Union as part of the 7th Framework Programme and coordinated by Novamont, the ReBioFoam Project has involved a 10-strong consortium made up of partners from eight different countries. The expansion of the biopolymers has been obtained using microwave technology, which takes advantage of the inner water content of the material as expanding agent.
The process that has led to the production of the new bio-foams can be described by two main steps: First formulation and processing, i.e. the extrusion of the base materials with small quantities of biobased and/or renewable additives and subsequent conditioning, in order to produce pellets with specific parameters tailor made for the following expansion phase. Second microwave assisted expansion and molding. During this second step, pellets are transferred into a microwave-transparent mould and further processed into a microwave at controlled temperature. Rapid dielectric heating of the pellets causes the pellets to foam in the mould, thus resulting in a 3-D shaped foamed product.
The success of the ReBioFoam project opens up new important routes in terms of environmental sustainability and overcoming environmental concerns through a system-based approach.
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