NewHyPe

European consortium to develop optimized mulch paper

NewHyPe

European consortium to develop optimized mulch paper

Coating
Hybride Coating as protective layer
Substrate
Mulch-paper based Cellulosic material
PURPOSE
Weed control, optimization of the water balance and soil quality and thus an increase in crop yield

NewHyPe -
New Hybrid Paper

In the NewHyPe project, research institutes and companies from Norway, Finland and Germany have come together to develop new mulch papers. The project is designed in a way that in each country a partner from industry can complete and support the research activities of the institutes. When designing the consortium, it was important to ensure that the entire value chain is covered later and values can be created in the participating countries.

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Background & Goals

Despite of many good characteristics of fossil-based plastics, especially of the non-biodegradable ones, the problem is that in some applications and areas significant shares thereof are not recycled or incinerated, but end up as waste material in nature after a relatively short time of use. Thus biodegradable solutions are much sought after. Replacement of fossil-based plastics with bio-based alternatives is (also) a step towards carbon neutral society.

Cellulose is the most abundant biopolymer on earth, and is one of few sustainable raw materials available in sufficiently large quantities to meet the world’s future demands for new materials which can replace traditional plastics in various applications. In some applications, the ductility and water resistance of cellulose-based materials and composites have to be improved. Furthermore, the water resistance should be adjustable so that variable degradation times relevant for the specific use of the product can be obtained

The project aim is to develop novel and sustainable cellulose-based and biodegradable materials as a long-term solution that can substitute some of the fossil-based plastics, in particular plastic that is now used for a relatively short period of time and possible left in the environment afterwards. The target of the project is to improve the basic stability of cellulose-based materials/cellulosic fibres significantly by a combination with specific inorganic-organic hybrid polymers (ORMOCER®). The high functionality of the hybrid polymers allows that chemical connections between cellulose fibres are formed, which lead to an increased/adjustable mechanical and chemical stability of the resulting hybrid composite.

In this research project, the novel composite type will be targeted the two following application areas:

  • A partly water resistant but still degradable paper to replace non-degradable plastic mulch films for use in agriculture. This replacement aims at solving the littering problem caused by non-degradable plastic mulches. The replacement would also decrease the work load and costs of farmers. Instead of tedious gathering of plastic mulch films, the novel cellulose-based mulches could simply be ploughed into the soil after the growth period.

 

  • Nanocellulose-based degradable films with sufficient strength, water resistance and ductility for the replacement of fossil-based plastic films used as food packaging.
Cellulose
Target
Application
1. Cellulose

Cellulose is the most abundant biopolymer on earth, and is one of few sustainable raw materials available in sufficiently large quantities to meet the world’s future demands for new materials which can replace traditional plastics in various applications. In some applications, the ductility and water resistance of cellulose-based materials and composites have to be improved. Furthermore, the water resistance should be adjustable so that variable degradation times relevant for the specific use of the product can be obtained

2. Target

The project aim is to develop novel and sustainable cellulose-based and biodegradable materials as a long-term solution that can substitute some of the fossil-based plastics, in particular plastic that is now used for a relatively short period of time and possible left in the environment afterwards. The target of the project is to improve the basic stability of cellulose-based materials/cellulosic fibres significantly by a combination with specific inorganic-organic hybrid polymers (ORMOCER®). The high functionality of the hybrid polymers allows that chemical connections between cellulose fibres are formed, which lead to an increased/adjustable mechanical and chemical stability of the resulting hybrid composite.

3. Application

In this research project, the novel composite type will be targeted the two following application areas:

  • A partly water resistant but still degradable paper to replace non-degradable plastic mulch films for use in agriculture. This replacement aims at solving the littering problem caused by non-degradable plastic mulches. The replacement would also decrease the work load and costs of farmers. Instead of tedious gathering of plastic mulch films, the novel cellulose-based mulches could simply be ploughed into the soil after the growth period.

 

  • Nanocellulose-based degradable films with sufficient strength, water resistance and ductility for the replacement of fossil-based plastic films used as food packaging.

Outcomes

NewHyPe Composting Test
Composting test after two weeks

Samples after the two-week composite test without (left) and with ORMOCER® coating (right)

NewHyPe Laboratory Compost Test
Laboratory compost test for coating development

Samples in compost environment before filling up the complete box

NewHyPe Cellulosic based material
Innovative cellulosic based material development

First results of ORMOCER®-linked cellulosic materials with sufficient mechanical properties

Products

The main product in this project will be mulch papers. The base are state-of-the-art papers whose properties are improved by hybrid coatings. This concerns, above all, their mechanical properties, but also their resistance to environmental influences. As a particularly innovative substrate, nanocellulosic paper is also used for mulch papers as an alternative to classic mulch films. Again, the hybrid materials, applied as a coating, should improve the stabilities. Such mulch papers with an improved property profile will be produced by combining nanocellulosic-dispersion as a support structure and hybrid ORMOCER®as matrix components. No additional layer is applied here, but the stability is achieved by additional crosslinking by the ORMOCER® binder. In addition, there are other properties, such as black coloring to control the temperature management on the field. The field of application is mainly in agriculture. The developed papers can also be used in the packaging industry to protect food and cosmetics, e.g. from moisture, while maintaining their environmentally friendly and biodegradable characteristics.

Project Activities

To reach the targeted goals, the project partners work hand in hand and to make sure that the results can be transferred into the production process after the end of the project, and an intensive exchange between the partners and countries is achieved. The project work is portioned in various technical activities, which, in addition to the important aspects such as reporting, dissemination and explications represent the center of the project.

Development of hybrid coatings
Development of hybrid coatings

Sol-Gel based hybrid polymers will be used as materials for the mulch paper coatings or…
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Modification, characterization and production of nanocelluloses
Modification, characterization and production of nanocelluloses

The nanocelluloses will be produced for the integration in the ORMOCER®-matrix or for complete nanocellulosic…
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Manufacturing, coating and impregnation of paper-based mulch covers
Manufacturing, coating and impregnation of paper-based mulch covers

The inorganic-organic hybrid materials will be used as coating material for conventional mulch papers. Therefore,…
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Consortium & Partner

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Bioeconomy in the North

BIOECONOMY will be a central part of research in the future. Therefore, three research funders from Finland, Norway and Germany have decided to jointly implement a bioeconomy funding initiative relevant for the Northern part of Europe. They are aware that the three countries share analoguouse challenges and similar assets with regard to climate, vegetation patterns, industry structure and cultural aspects. The objective is to intensify the cooperation of researchers, to create critical mass, to generate synergies and to increase the quality of R&D in topics relevant for bioeconomy in the Northern by supporting excellent scientific communities. The aim of “Bioeconomy in the North” (BiN) is to implement transnational calls for proposals for research, development and innovation in the forest-based bioeconomy sector relevant for the Northern part of Europe. The primary objective is to support “Research and innovation leading to new products and supply services from non-food / non-feed biomass resources in Northern Europe”. The consortium consists at the moment of three partners representing programs in the bioeconomy funding sector and coming from the northern part of Europe:

  • Finland:  Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MMM)
  • Germany: Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF)
  • Norway:  The Research Council of Norway (RCN)
About "Bioeconomy in the North"

NewHyPe

European consortium to develop optimized mulch paper

The problem

Pollution with polymeric mulch films that remain on the fields and are not degradable

NewHyPe

European consortium to develop optimized mulch paper

The solution

Biodegradable mulch papers based on cellulose with protective hybrid coating

The product

Mulch papers with a coating to enhance chemical and mechanical stability while maintaining their degradability