Development of tailor-made PHB composites for technical applications
Project acronym: PHB2MARKET

- Kevin Moser, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V., Germany
- Bruno Ferreira, Biotrend SA, Portugal
- Janusz Kazimierczak, Institute of Biopolymers and Chemical Fibres, Poland
- Marian Soja, SILESIAN POLYMERS, Poland
- Marek Warzala, Institute of Heavy Organic Synthesis Blachownia, Poland

PHB2MARKET will develop 100 % renewable, high-value composite materials consisting of the bio-polymer polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), cellulose nanofibers (CNF) and bio-based, multifunctional plasticizers (BMP). These materials will be made of sustainable industrial by-products or biomasses, using eco-efficient industrial biotechnology and chemical processes.

In Development Area 1 (DA1), biotechnology experts BIOTREND, IBWCh and ISCO will optimize biotechnological processes for the cost-effective conversion of industrial by-products and biomass into added-value products, and their further processing to bio-based composites and products. DA1 has the following aims:

- Bacterial synthesis of different PHB with tailored crystallization properties
- Enzymatic synthesis of high-strength cellulose reinforcements (CNF)
- Chemical synthesis of bio-based functional plasticizers (BMP)

In DA2 the raw materials from DA1 will be combined to create high-value bio-composite material by compounding and subsequent conversion using injection molding and 3D-printing. The following main properties are targeted:

- Improvement of the processability in injection moulding and 3D-printing
- Improvement of the weld-line strength for high-quality 3D-printing parts
- Reduced polymer chain degradation
- Improvement of impact strength up to 80 kJ/m² and elongation at break up to 10 %
- Preserving tensile strength (>25 MPa) and Young’s modulus (>1.5 GPa)

DA3 will transform the newly-developed composites into the two demonstrator parts: a frisbee (consumer products) and gearwheel (spare part applications). The aims of DA3 are:

- Transfer of knowledge from DA2 into existing industrial processes, demonstrating the feasibility of industrial part production
- Production of demo parts using injection moulding and 3D-printing
- Validation of the substitution potential of PHB2MARKET composites