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FERMAX and AIMPLAS Develop Bioplastic from Wheat Straw

05 February 2013

The Technological Institute of Plastics (AIMPLAS) is developing a fully biodegradable plastic produced from wheat straw where its properties allow its use in the manufacturing of white goods and electronic equipment.

The bioplastic is being developed as part of a European project called BUGWORKERS, which AIMPLAS is coordinating over a 48 month period involving 15 partners including FERMAX, the Basque technological centre TECNALIA and NetComposites.

Wheat straw is an agro-industrial residue. However within this project it is able to significantly reduce the manufacturing cost of a biodegradable plastic, thus boosting its value. The straw was chosen for its low cost and high availability especially within central Europe.

Sugar derived from the straw is fed to bacteria to produce the bioplastic. The cellulose fibres from the same residue are the key to providing the necessary rigidity of the material for the further application in electronics and appliances.

So far the partners involved in BUGWORKERS have achieved good results in terms of process efficiency and are therefore taking this to an industrial scale. These results will lead to further discussions about costs and competitive properties. "We need a high yield in the bioplastic synthesis process using bacteria to be able to speak of a cost competitive product, and we are getting very positive results in BUGWORKERS regarding this" says Ana Espert, technical coordinator in AIMPLAS project.