Partnering opportunity

Single-step process for the production of wood-plastic composites (WPC) for application in the construction sector and automotive industries

Summary

A German research institution has developed a single-step, versatile, and cost effective production process for wood-plastic composites (WPC) with tunable mechanical properties for different applications. An industrial partner in the WPC or refiner branche, i.e. a refiner manufacturer, WPC or fiberboard producer is sought for licensing, transfer of rights, knowledge transfer or R&D cooperation.

Partner sought

An industrial manufacturer of refiners, producers of wood plastic composites (WPCs), or a producer of fiberboard (MDF, HDF) is sought for licensing, transfer of rights (pending patent), or knowledge transfer. Depending on targeted applications the production process could be refined in a R&D cooperation.

Description

Wood-plastic composite (WPC) stands for the combination of a thermoplastic matrix with wood particles. WPC has found increasing applications in many areas, e.g. automobile industry and building sector, and has become a reliable, cost-effective composite material for a growing market. The mechanical properties of WPC can be improved considerably through the use of wood fibers. However, their use has posed various challenges, e.g. difficulty of efficient dosing, formation of (fiber) agglomerates, downgrading of fibers during manufacturing, and generally high consumption of energy and resulting costs. A German research group has developed a novel single-step, versatile, and cost effective WPC compounding process, yielding an intermediate for commercial exploitation in extrusion, injection, and compression molding. In this process, the wood defibration and compounding happen simultaneously, thus avoiding previous drying and melting steps. The formation of undesired fiber agglomerates is also excluded, and the use of inexpensive thermomechanical pulp fibers is possible with this approach. Tests performed using DIN EN compliant probes yielded comparable tensile and bending strength results compared to conventionally produced reference material. WPCs with a wood to plastics ratio of 30:70 to 70:30 have been produced with costs 30-50 % lower than in conventional processes. Partners could be manufacturers of refiners, or producers in the areas of construction (fiber slabs, floors, furniture), automotive, and various consumer goods. They could benefit from a transfer of rights of the existing IP (patent pending), licensing, or R&D collaborations to refine the production process for a specific application.

Advantages and innovations

Advantages offered at the process level: Different wood sources can be processed, e.g. shavings, chips or powder. Single-step compounding process: wood refining / fiber production takes place during the compounding process. No agglomeration of fibers and reduced fiber damage. Production is compatible with generally used thermoplastics, e.g. polyolefins. Process can be adapted to intended end-product, e.g by adjusting the W:P mixture ratio. Very large WPC production volumes are possible. Production costs are reduced.

Development stage

Under development/lab tested

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted


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