Georgios Mourgas, Project Manager at TECNARO speaks in this interview about the main roles in upscaling, manufacturing, and the main challenges.

How is TECNARO contributing to upscaling and manufacturing?

The art of compounding is to compose a new material from different biopolymers, additives, and auxiliaries, all of which have different properties and processing characteristics.  Each biopolymer on its own has properties that only fit into a certain category (e.g. PLA is brittle and therefore cannot be processed well into films, only blending with other polymers and additives enables this application).  Therefore, compounding creates a completely new material. The difficulty is therefore to know or anticipate the exact interaction of the biopolymers with each other, but also the mutual influence of the properties. In the composition of the blend, both economic factors must be taken into account, i.e. the novel material should be able to compete with its properties with existing materials and be affordable, but also include the major benefits of biopolymers, such as an improved carbon footprint improved recyclability or degradability and complete biobasedness,. This new material should of course not only function in the laboratory extruder but should also be able to be processed on conventional equipment that is already used in industry.

What are the main challenges?

Tecnaro contributes with his knowledge to shape the biopolymers produced and supplied in the UPLIFT project into a compound that can be used in industrial applications. The manufacturing processes will be optimized and adapted for large-scale industrial use. The main challenges besides the compound composition are the optimization of the complete processing parameters, e.g. extruder throughput rates, extruder zone temperatures, and screw profiles, but also choosing the right pelletizing processes such as underwater pelletizing or strand pelletizing. The entire process should be easily adaptable by all users for their applications and possible without additional technical or financial effort.