Plastic materials have great potential for use. To ensure that this can also be used in an environmentally friendly way, we are working intensively on solutions for resource-efficient, sustainable and bio-based plastics. Our particular strength is our massive expertise in the additivation of plastics in order to adjust very specific material properties. In this way, biopolymers made from renewable raw materials can also be adjusted and upgraded for demanding technical applications in terms of service life, degradation or performance, or the possibilities of mechanical recycling can be significantly expanded in the sense of upcycling conventional polymers.
Plastics are an integral part of our everyday lives. They offer the widest range of options in material technology solutions for a large number of applications. A wide range of properties can be imprinted in a targeted manner: Foodstuffs are hygienically packaged in a safe and durable manner using plastics. As insulating and sealing materials with special fire protection properties, they are a modern building material. As engineering plastics, they offer effective and efficient functional features and lightweight construction potential in primary and secondary components – often being shaped in a highly complex manner with defined insulating, vibration damping, sensory or actuator functions. Yet while their extraordinarily positive technical properties cannot be denied, plastics are increasingly the subject of critical discussion. They are emblematic of modern environmental problems, in the form of microplastics or the pollution of the oceans, which we help to reduce through our research work.
In the Circular Economy area of expertise, Fraunhofer LBF scientists are working on sustainable, durable and environmentally compatible plastics solutions, from the molecule, formulation and chemical-physical characterization to synthesis and validation, from use to the “end of life” and recycling – thereby transforming linear processes into circular ones. The particular strength of LBF is its profound expertise in the additivation of plastics in order to adapt highly-specific material properties. Thus, biopolymers made from renewable raw materials can also be adjusted and upgraded for demanding technical applications in terms of their service life, degradation or performance. On the other hand, innovative additive systems allow for enhanced processability and improved end properties for recycled material. What is more, additive systems can significantly expand the possibilities for material recycling of conventional polymers in terms of upcycling. Another field of research involves the development of bioadditives as substitutes for commercial systems which, in terms of quality and performance, achieve comparable properties to conventional additives and in some cases significantly surpass them, e.g. for the weather resistance or flame retardancy of polymers.