4.11 Water repellant cellulose-based low-density foams:Preparation, Characterization and Sustainability

There is an obvious need to replace today's plastic products with new sustainable and biodegradable materials based on renewable resources. The usage of e.g., expanded polystyrene (EPS) in moulded plastics and foams is increasingly questioned since the material is difficult to recycle, has a very long decomposition time and contributes to the emergence of microplastics in our marine environment. Regions such as the EU, states and local actors are increasingly banning the material, especially in disposable items. At the same time, low density packaging material fills an important community function, such as shock absorbers to protect manufactured goods or insulation, to enable new distribution chains and reduce food waste. New forest-based and biodegradable materials are part of the solution to replace fossil-based packaging materials.
The aim with this project is to continue our development of foam moulding, the technology to produce highly porous cellulose-based foam materials with barrier against water that can replace fossil-based materials in e.g., the packaging industry. A lab concept together with analytical evaluation protocols have previously been developed to produce porous solid foams via convective drying of wet foams. Here, this is used for further material screening and preparations, the development of important process parameters and the evaluation of material characteristics. A sustainability test is carried out in order to investigate how the material can be recycled and/or degraded and additionally, two prototypes are being produced.