Compostable Particle Foam with High Biobased Content
BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany, is expanding its range of high performance foam products with the innovative, certified compostable particle foam ecovio EA. The product is predominantly biobased and, like all of the grades under the ecovio brand, it supports the biological cycle through its certified compostability.
ecovio EA is particularly suitable for transport packaging for high-value or delicate goods where a high level of impact resistance and robustness is vital. The product properties are similar to those of EPS and boast outstanding energy absorption and very good resilience even when subjected to multiple impact loads. The high biobased content and the certified compostability make ecovio EA particularly attractive wherever a fossil packaging solution no longer meets customers’ requirements for a biobased and biodegradable transport solution.
ecovio EA consists of the biodegradable BASF polymer ecoflex and polylactic acid (PLA), which is derived from corn or other sugar-generating plants like manioc. To produce ecovio EA, expandable granules are charged with the blowing agent pentane in an innovative process. This step enables trouble-free pre-expansion of the material on conventional EPS pre-expanders and subsequent molding. The raw granules themselves have a density of approx. 700g/l. ecovio EA is available in the market with a particle size of 1.05 mm. In addition, a further grade with a diameter of 0.8 mm is under development. The particle foam is available in brown and is delivered to customers in an octabin. The product can be stored there in appropriate storage facilities for at least six months without any quality impairment.
Processors can form ecovio EA into an almost limitless range of shapes in two steps. In a first step, the granules are pre-expanded with the addition of steam to produce closed-cell beads with an adjustable minimum bulk density of 25g/l. A short prefoaming time contributes to a low energy consumption in this production step. Following this, the expanded granules can finally be processed into all kinds of different molded parts. Customers benefit from the fact that the processing can also easily take place on existing EPS or EPP production machines. The very similar processing characteristics mean that there is no need for any conversion of the machines and existing production processes do not need to be substantially modified.
In a direct comparison with EPS, ecovio EA has lower rigidity and when it comes to its energy absorbing capacity it comes between EPS and EPP. These properties make this material perfect for use in the E&E sector as well, in particular for heavy and delicate packaged goods such as washing machines or televisions, which need to remain unscathed right along the transport chain even if they are subjected to multiple, heavy impacts. Furthermore, ecovio EA has a minimum thermal conductivity of 34 mW/(mK) and is therefore also outstandingly suited to all thermal insulation applications in the transport sector. For example, ecovio EA helps to maintain the cold chain at all times for temperature-sensitive goods such as packaged vegetables, fruit, meat, frozen goods or even medicines. This effectively prevents the goods from being ruined.
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