Biopolymers

Biopolymer research – Efficient use of nature

The research division Biopolymers focuses on one hand on industrially available biopolymers such as cellulose, starch, lignin, chitosan, vegetable and animal proteins. On the other hand biopolymers from products of agriculture and forestry are obtained with newly developed methods in order to expand the opportunities for using renewable raw materials and to achieve a holistic value of biomass.

In the development of biobased products, we focus on aspects such as functionality, efficiency and safety. Our goal is to replace petroleum by renewable resources in many applications. New approaches for securing the raw material basis of the chemical industry, for global food security and reduction of harmful emissions are developed.

The use of biopolymers has been established for example in the food manufacturing industries, pharmaceuticals, medical technology, chemical industry, plastics processing and vehicle manufacturing.

Our services

Cellulose

  • viscose process / carbamate process / lyocell process
  • optimization of processes for paper production
  • bacteria cellulose


Lignin

  • analytical lignin characterization
  • precursor material for carbon fibers
  • application in thermoplastic systems and composites

 

Starch

  • enzymatic and chemical derivatization
  • reactive extrusion
  • application e. g. as barrier coating, binder, functional food additive, tableting agent, adhesive for wood fiberboards

 

Feedstock analysis, material characterization and testing

  • comprehensive chemical and physical analysis
  • characterization of organic and inorganic substances and mixtures
  • application-oriented testing (e. g. thermal, mechanical, barrier properties) of powders, fibers, films, moldings

 

Plastics processing

  • material development from biopolymers, bio-based polymers and from biomass (thermoplastics, composites)
  • process development for physical, enzymatic and chemical modification of biopolymers and biomass for materials and special products
  • material testing and optimization of processing properties and methods
  • development of fibers and nonwovens
  • compounding and additives
  • strand extrusion and pelletizing
  • blown film and flat film production (3-layer films)
  • blown film forming (single and two-layer)
  • injection molding
  • thermoforming
  • 3D printing / fused deposition modeling (FDM), incl. 3D printing
  • filament production

     

Carbon fibers

  • manufacturing of precursors incl. spinning technologies
  • PAN-based and lignocellulosic precursors
  • continuous conversion up to 3000 °C
  • supporting physical, chemical and structural characterization up to carbon fibers

Our research topics

As nature's synthesis products, biopolymers provide an impressive variety of macromolecular structures and physical properties. They are produced in renewable raw materials that are available rather endlessly. Traditionally, specific procedures are used worldwide for its isolation on an industrial scale. These biopolymers are available for product development and possess an inexhaustible potential for optimization for different applications.

The research division Biopolymers has scientific and technological expertise in the following areas

  • production of biopolymers
  • application and optimization of chemical and biotechnological processes for the direct recycling of biomass by extraction and processing of ingredients from the products of agricultural and forestry
  • investigation of morphology, structure and physical properties in the solid state
  • determination of the chemical composition and molecular properties
  • development of functional biopolymers by physical, enzymatic and chemical modification
  • investigation of process conditions of different technologies in the development of materials such as composites, films, fibers, nonwovens, thermoplastics and thermosets, membranes, polyols, toiletries
  • expansion of the property profile by processing in combination with biobased and synthetic polymers
  • development of specalties such as micro- and nanoparticles, encapsulating biopolymers and drug delivery, paper additives, building materials, adsorbents, adhesives, latex substitutes, polymer solutions and dispersions, gels, functional food additives

Our equipment

Compound processing

  • flexible configurable twin screw extruders up to 15 kg / h
  • conical twin screw extruders for compounding of small volume (> 5 cm³) samples
  • measuring kneader
  • extrusion blow molding machine
  • physical foaming equipment Optifoam
  • platen presses up to 300 x 300 mm² press area
  • 3D-printer

 

Film manufacturing

  • chill-roll units
  • tools for cast-film and flat-film processing in monolayer, 3-layer and 5-layer version
  • laboratory blown film lines
  • monoaxial laboratory stretching unit for film and monofilament
  • thermoforming and skin pack equipment

 

Injection molding

  • piston injection molding machine for small amounts
  • injection molding machines

 

Fiber spinning lines

  • Fourné laboratory bicomponent melt spinning line
  • lyocell-laboratory spinning system
  • wet spinning lines
  • viscose pilot plant by Blaschke

 

Carbon fiber equipment

  • batch-oven up to 1700 °C
  • stabilization up to 400 °C (tube ovens)
  • LT carbonization up to 1000 °C (tube ovens)
  • HT carbonization up to 2000 °C (tube oven)
  • UHT carbonization / graphitization up to 3000 °C (tube oven)

 

Spectroscopy

  • high resolution NMR spectrometer for liquids and solids
  • confocal Raman / PL microscope system
  • inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES)
  • mass spectrometer
  • UV / VIS spectrometer

 

Chromatography

  • gas chromatograph with flame ionization detector (FID) and mass spectrometer
  • high performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC)
  • high performance anion exchange chromatograph (HPAEC)
  • Ion chromatograph (IC) and combustion Ion chromatograph (CIC)
  • gel permeation chromatograph with multi-detection (VISCO, MALLS, UV, RI, ELSD)

                      

Morphology and structure elucidation

  • optical microscopes with video- and image analysis technology
  • polarization microscopy
  • scanning electron microscope (SEM) including X-ray microanalysis (EDX) and detector for backscattered electrons, devices for cryopreparation of moist samples
  • transmission electron microscope (TEM) incl. ultra-thin cut technology, cryomicrotomy, replica technology
  • X-ray equipment for wide angle (WAXS) and for small angle (SAXS) x-ray scattering

 

Material characteristics

  • air-conditioned mechanical test laboratory (incl. universal tensile testing machine, impact tester, bending endurance tester, …)
  • dart-drop tester
  • dynamic scanning calorimeter (DSC)
  • system for dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA)
  • moisture meter for plastics
  • system for density determination of solids and liquids (incl. density gradient column, helium gas pycnometer)
  • vibroscope for determination of fineness of fibers
  • gas (water vapor, oxygen) and liquid permeation analyzers
  • respirometer (biodegradation)
  • system for fire testing

 

Rheology

  • automatic capillary viscometer for solution viscosity
  • oscillation rheometer
  • rotational viscometer
  • rheometer high pressure cell modules for solution viscosity up to 160 °C
  • melt-flow-index measurement devices

Highlights

"AllPLACo"
Self-reinforced single-component composite material on the basis of polylactic acid

Within the BMEL-funded project "AllPLACo" (start in 2021) the Fraunhofer IAP is developing PLA-based filament yarns, -films as well as a PLA-based self-reinforced single-component material. To form complexes is a special PLA property, which is used to generate improved thermal properties compared to conventional PLA products for using PLA-based materials in technical applications. With the help of Trevira GmbH, Tesa SE and TechnoCompound GmbH the developed processes should be scaled up on an industrial scale during the 2.5 years of project time.   

 

"BeBIO2"
Resistance of bioplastics and biocomposites

The increase of the usage of biobased materials and the decrease of the lack of information about them especially in small- and medium-sized companies are the main goals of the FNR-funded project "BeBIO2" (2021 - 2024). In cooperation with the IfW (University of Kassel), the IKT (University of Stuttgart) and Altair Engineering GmbH the resistance of bioplastics and biocomposites is investigated. The examined material data are going to be added in an accessible database. Furthermore biobased material systems are evaluated and developed for specific applications such as high-filled PE-lignin-blends for construction and outdoor applications, PLA-starch-blends for technical office equipment and toys, cellulose reinforced bioplastics for consumer products or natural fiber reinforced PHBV-compounds for electric tool cases.  

 

"LigOdor"
Odor reduction of thermoplastic lignin blends

Lignin is a by-product of chemical pulp manufacture, one of the most common renewable resources and reinforces polyolefin materials such as PE increasing their mechanical properties. Because of thermal processing, emission of olfactory substances takes place. The project "LigOdor" (2020 - 2023) funded by the FNR focusses on the odor reduction of thermoplastic lignin blends. Evaluated odor reducing steps are the incorporation of different adsorber types and barrier coatings.

 

"NaHoStar"
Sustainable wood coating based on starch esters

To protect wood against negative environmental influences, the Fraunhofer IAP cooperates with the Fraunhofer IPA in the FNR-funded project "NaHoStar" to research on a new bio-based wood coating. For such protective wood coating, binding agents based on the renewable raw material starch were used. This project lasts 2.5 years (2020 - 2022) with the aim of demonstrating the potential of starch in protective wood coatings. Combining a well-chosen modification of starch, bio-based additives for color and practical application tests, new bio-based material systems are developed for internal and outdoor applications.

Jens Buller

Contact Press / Media

Dr. Jens Buller

Head of department | Starch Modification / Molecular Properties

Fraunhofer IAP
Geiselbergstraße 69
14469 Potsdam

Phone +49 331 568-1478

André Lehmann

Contact Press / Media

Dr. André Lehmann

Head of department | Fiber Technology

Fraunhofer IAP
Geiselbergstraße 69
14476 Potsdam-Golm

Phone +49 331 568-1510

Johannes Ganster

Contact Press / Media

Prof. Dr. Johannes Ganster

Head of department | Material Development and Structure Characterization

Fraunhofer IAP
Geiselbergstraße 69
14476 Potsdam-Golm

Phone +49 331 568-1706

Thomas Büsse

Contact Press / Media

Dipl.-Ing. Thomas Büsse

Processing Pilot Plant for Biopolymers Schwarzheide

Fraunhofer IAP
Schipkauer Str.1 BSW-Standort A 754
01987 Schwarzheide

Phone +49 331 568-3403