from by Philip Proefrock

Arboform is a material made from wood components mixed with fibers and natural additives to produce a material that can be used to create domestic products that are currently made from petroleum-based plastics.

“The cellulose industry separates wood into its three main components — lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose,” ICT team leader Emilia Regina Inone-Kauffmann told DPA. “The lignin is not needed in papermaking, however. Our colleagues mix that lignin with fine natural fibers made of wood, hemp or flax and natural additives such as wax. From this, they produce plastic granulate that can be melted and injection-moulded.”

Making plastic with lignin has been around for some time, but has been reserved for car parts and other limited uses because of the high sulfur content. Arboform is the first lignin-based plastic material that has a low enough sulfur content to make it worth considering for a wider range of consumer uses.

Not only is Arboform a possible replacement for traditional plastics, but it is also highly recyclable. “To find that out, we produced components, broke them up into small pieces, and re-processed the broken pieces — 10 times in all. We did not detect any change in the material properties of the low-sulphur bio-plastic, so that means it can be recycled,” said Inone-Kauffmann.

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