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looking ahead
A BETTER WORLD

‘LIQUID WOOD’: ECO-FRIENDLY ALTERNATIVE TO SYNTHETIC PLASTICS


website: www.tecnaro.de

liquid wood
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who:Tecnaro is a German producer of high-quality thermoplastics from renewable resources. The raw material is lignin, which is second only to cellulose as the most abundant natural polymer. Mixing lignin with natural fibres (flax, hemp or other fibre plants) and natural additives produces a fibre composite that can be processed at raised temperatures and, just like a synthetic thermoplastic material, can be made into mouldings, plates or slabs using conventional plastics processing machines. This allows products such as computer, television or mobile phone casings to be made from ‘wood’. The granules made from such bio-renewable materials are named Arboform®.

what: it smells like wood, looks like wood, and has the same mechanical and chemical properties as wood. It even has similar acoustical properties, so it can be used to make violins, for example. However, these violins would be injection or compression moulded, rather than carved painstakingly by hand.

Arboform® is in fact a plastic made from wood. It is made from 100% renewable raw materials and, because of its origin and composition, is mainly used for injection moulded wood applications. This new material brings two industries together. It puts the wood processing industry in a position to make products with design geometries that in the past were only economically feasible with the use of plastics. And, conversely, it puts the plastics processing industry in the position of processing the warm material wood just like a conventional thermoplastic.

The disposal of Arboform® products is the same as for naturally grown wood, i.e. by decay or incineration. The quantity of CO2 pollutant emitted in the process is no more than what was previously fixed from the atmosphere by the plants while growing.

why: the new material is superior not only to typical injection moulding plastics, such as polyamide and polycarbonate, but also to wood itself. Although the potential of this material in construction applications has not been fully exploited as yet, current production includes façade sections, interior finishing products and sub-bases for parquet flooring. The latter conventionally consist of laminated wood, often contain toxic glues such as phenolic resin, and tend to warp when laid with even slight inaccuracies.

Arboform® is safe even when used with foodstuffs, is dimensionally stable and can bear load in any direction. Even when placed in water, the material will absorb less than 1% moisture, while the figure can reach up to 15% for laminated wood. Actually, it is too good to be used just as a sub-base. The high quality of the product has been demonstrated by the sound of musical instruments made from Arboform®. Its dimensional stability also makes Arboform® a material that lends itself to use as timber mouldings for installing glass façades or for window frames.

sustainability: the constantly growing output of global petrochemical plastics production from crude oil delivers more than 100 million tonnes of carbonaceous compounds to the surface every year which, after their useful life as plastics materials, are disposed in waste incinerators from which they are emitted into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2). The resulting accumulation of CO2 in the earth's atmosphere is thought to be among the causes of the global greenhouse effect.

In this context, thermoplastic compounds based on renewable resources offer a more environmentally compatible alternative to synthetic petrochemical plastics. Being made of one hundred percent renewable resources, an Arboform® product can be disposed of in professional refuse incineration plants at the end of its useful life, just like wood, without hesitation. This means that the incineration of the product will emit the exact same amount of CO2 into the atmosphere that the plant previously took from the atmosphere while it was growing. Thus it is a closed CO2 cycle without any accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere and, hence, doesn’t add to the greenhouse effect.


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