We are surrounded by plastics - there is virtually no consumer or industrial product without a plastic component; starting from the latex in paper coatings and ending up at composites in aircrafts and windmills, the penetration of plastics into our life and the industrially produced artefacts has been exhaustive. Through the rise of consumption and price of oil, the demand for renewable plastics has been on steady growth.
The motivation for reinforcement of plastic materials has two primary targets. The price of plastics of non-renewable origin may be reduced with a low cost additive such as bark, sawdust or other side-stream materials. With proper composite design, these low cost, partially fibrous additives can also be expected to improve the properties of the plastics. The second, more ambitious target is the production of entirely bio-based material with technical properties similar to the modern engineering plastics, even those with reinforcement. Ultimately, transparent materials with mechanical properties at the level of steel can be expected by a combination of nanoscale cellulose particles with the right resin – both with 100% bio-based content.
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