Bioplastics and biodegradable polymers are obtained from various natural resources. Interest in environmentally safe and friendly biodegradable cellular materials is expanding considering the increasing prices of plastic resins made from complex hydrocarbons (petroleum, gas, etc.) and the environmental concerns associated to waste reduction. The introduction of significant renewable biomass feedstock for the production of such materials contributes to sustainability. The term bioplastics encompasses a whole family of materials which can be bio-based, biodegradable or both.
The development of new formulations and alternative processing routes has focused the attention of CellMat Laboratory with regard to bioplastic based cellular materials. Starch, PLA (polylactic acid), PHAs (polyhydroxyalkanoates) and natural rubber are some of the materials included in this research line. Despite their bio-characteristics (bio-based, bio-derived or both), their poor foamability and their special characteristics have motivated the main issues covered by this research line:
- Development of starch based formulations (filled with natural fibers) for the production of foams by conventional (baking) and non-conventional (microwave) foaming processes.
- Production of PLA based foams by the gas dissolution technique.
- Development of PHA foams: non-woven filled materials foamed by different processes (extrusion, gas dissolution).
- Development of natural rubber foams cross-linked by chemical or physical processes.