Thermoplastic composite utilizing torrefied biomass

Description:

Reference #: 01515

The University of South Carolina is offering licensing opportunities for Thermoplastic composite utilizing torrefied biomass

Background:

This invention solves two primary problems. First, it provides a use for waste forestry and agricultural biomass, which currently do not have attractive commercial uses resulting in forest fires or open controlled burns, which result in reduced air quality. These issues have become more prominent in recent years with increased forest fire damage across the United States. Overseas, open burning of agricultural waste impacts air quality to the extent that many people are forced to wear masks and respirators to avoid breathing in particulate matter. This issue is quite prominent in southeast Asia, for example, in Thailand.

Invention Description:

A composite consisting of primarily biochar/torrefied biomass blended with plant-based starches has been developed as an alternate use for waste biomass. Depending on synthesis parameters, the composite can either be hard and rigid or rubbery and flexible, enabling a variety of uses as an environmentally friendly replacement for low strength consumer plastics, shoe soles, and athletic tracks, for example. In addition, the formulation can be adjusted to produce a plastic that readily biodegrades.

Potential Applications:

The uses of this product are dependent on the physical properties of the material. For example, hard plastic can be utilized as a replacement for plastic containers and other hard plastics, while the rubbery product can be utilized for athletic tracks or shoe soles, for example. With rubbery materials, we can potentially replace synthetic athletic tracks and shoe soles with a natural product that serves as a carbon sink. In the case of more rigid plastics, this product functions as an attractive alternative to conventional single-use plastics as the material can be made to be readily biodegradable.

Advantages and Benefits:

Previous composites have been developed and utilized, however, the inclusion of a large percentage of torrefied wood in the system with natural fillers imparts additional durability to the system as torrefied wood does not absorb water as readily as untreated wood, which can reduce swelling and distortion of the composite relative to one produced via untreated wood. This material could be directly and economically composted or degraded to avoid microplastics or other plastic waste from entering or waterways and landfills.

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Technology Commercialization
University of South Carolina
technology@sc.edu
Inventors:
Jochen Lauterbach
Michael Royko
Keywords:
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