The Project

Expected Results

The performance of FLHEA project has achieved to develop a completely renewable and biodegradable compound based in surface modified nanofibres derived from bast fibres. A homogeneous composite material based on fibres has been performed and it is suitable for packaging applications.

Objectives

The main objective of FLHEA project is the development of industrial scaled-up processes to obtain modified cellulose nanowhiskers, for the development of biocomposites with improved properties to perform thermoformed trays for food packaging applications.

This scope will assure the development of biodegradable fibre-based composites ready for the use and commercialization on packaging industry. FLHEA industrial process will be high-throughput, environmental, energetic and cost efficient.

A technological demand

Packaging application is the greatest sector for the plastics industry in Europe. One of the main challenges in this industry is the control of wastes after use. In order to reduce the environmental load generated from the disposal of used plastic materials, a growing interest has been focused on biodegradable polymers based materials. However, the use of biodegradable films for food packaging has been strongly limited because of the poor barrier properties and weak mechanical properties shown by natural polymers. A possible strategy to increase its properties is the development of fibre-based biocomposites. In this sense, natural fibres represent an interesting profitable substrate, being most of them plant fibres. Although the demand for natural fibers is growing worldwide and its price is increasing, annual plants such as jute, sisal, kenaf, flax or hemp require further development to provide novel products with improved properties.

The development of FLHEA project has provided a novel range of surface modified reinforcements. The project has been focused on the upscaling and modification of micro/nanoreinforcements based in hemp and flax, and its subsequent processing to obtain composites with improved properties. 



Project Motivation

Flax and hemp have been used since centuries ago, and have become agricultural commodities cultivated for its application on a wide range of products such as long fibres for fabric, short fibres for paper or felt; seeds and oils for livestock feed, or use as compost, among others. These crops represent an important area on European agricultural sector. 

However, there is a need to develop novel products to offer a differentiated and competitive product as a result of globalised economies. Flax and hemp have been used on the development of bio-composites, leading to innovative new applications and opportunities for these industries. The advantages of flax and hemp reinforcements are based on the development of lower weight and enhanced properties composite materials. During the last years the development of nanocomposites, has led to a novel field of material development.

FLHEA Project scope has been based on the implementation of a technical approach to the upscaling of composites, and specifically, to cellulose based nanocomposites. This research is based on a previous Project development (Traysrenew), and has been focused on the increase of cellulose isolation and nanowhiskers yield, its modification to enhance compatibility to polymeric matrices, and the production and evaluation of parts at industrial scale. 

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