European Project ECOplast Develops Nanoclay-Reinforced Bioplastic

27 May 2014

The project has developed a new bioplastic material based on polylactic acid (PLA) and nanoclays suitable for the automotive sector.

The final meeting of the European project ECOplast took place on the 7th-8th May at CTAG, (Automotive Technological Center of Galicia), Spain. The project started in June 2010 with the aim of developing a new material from renewable resources with properties which reached the required standard for use in the automotive sector.


The project partners explain that processing and cost of the new materials have been key aspects during the project, with the consortium having to take into account both traditional production processes used in the automotive sector, such as injection moulding and thermoforming, as well as other alternative production methods.

During the four-year duration of the project, the ECOplast partners have been analysing different mixtures and processes. AIMPLAS explains it has developed composites based on PHB (polyhydroxybutyrate, from microbial synthesis) reinforced with mats and fabrics of natural fibers,  which have improved mechanical properties when compared to materials used currently in interior automotive applications. Due to this development, PHB is now closer to being introduced to cars, and is it already suitable for other uses. 

In addition, a material based on PLA (polylactic acid, from starch) additivated with nanoclays has been developed. It complies with all the requirements to be used in interior automotive applcations. Other advances in innovative materials have also been carried out.  For example AIMPLAS explains PBP (a synthesised polymer using proteins from the silk) has been successfully synthesised and scaled. This last material, which is not yet in the market, has very interesting properties for other kind of industries. 

AIMPLAS states the relationship established between the 13 partners of ECOplast, Universities, R+D centers, manufacturers of raw materials, converters and industrial companies, from five different nationalities (Spain, Portugal, Germany, Netherlands and Finland), will create new collaborations and international projects according to the new materials.

The ECOplast ‘Research Project in new biomass-based composites from renewable resources with improved properties for vehicle parts moulding’ has been co-funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union, within the NMP call (Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials & new Production Technologies) in 2009.  

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