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Polyplastics Ropes in Regenerated Cellulose in Long-Fiber Thermoplastic

Image courtesy of Alamy/John Kellerman forest
The eco-friendly resin provides weight reduction plus mechanical strength.

Japan’s Polyplastics Group has introduced a grade of Plastron LFT long-fiber thermoplastic resin reinforced with specially formulated regenerated cellulose fibers. This eco-friendly material provides weight reduction plus mechanical strength, enabling manufacturers to reduce their carbon footprint and meet today’s sustainability demands. 

Eco-friendly resins that incorporate natural fibers, starch, wood powder, and other plant-based and natural mineral filling materials are being considered for use in a broader range of applications. Cellulose is a promising material to help reduce CO2 emissions but its insufficient strength is a limiting factor. Polyplastics has addressed this problem by using regenerated cellulose in the development of LFT resins with a balance of physical properties. Regenerated cellulose is natural cellulose spun into continuous fibers through wet spinning.  

Since cellulose is highly insoluble in solvents, a large portion of regenerated cellulose fibers are manufactured through time-consuming, cumbersome process steps. Simplifying these processes would likely lead to a further reduction in CO2. To this end, Polyplastics has developed a simpler solvent process for regenerated long-fiber cellulose materials that emits very little CO2. Since this method involves a closed process that recovers virtually 100% of the solvent, it generates hardly any waste and produces materials that are even more eco-friendly. The company has been awarded multiple patents for this technology in Japan and internationally. 

At the same flexural modulus, long-fiber cellulose-reinforced PP resin has lower density than long-glass-fiber-reinforced resin. Further, while long-fiber cellulose-reinforced PP resin has a flexural modulus roughly 3% higher than that of 30% long-glass-fiber-reinforced PP resin, it exhibits higher values for Charpy impact strength, tensile strength, and flexural strength, thus indicating potential for upgraded performance.

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