The main technical objective is to develop a 100% biodegradable plastic fibre to be used in two specific applications: a)Twines used for staking and propping crops in greenhouses, that combine the biodegradability and low disposal cost of the natural fibre twines with the excellent tensile strength/density ratio, design possibilities, flexible and cheap processing technique of synthetic twines b)Nets for packaging low-weight (up to 5Kg) agricultural, marine and non food products, with the same mechanical properties than those made of synthetic fibres, but without their disposal problems The new biodegradable twine and net will have the required physical and mechanical properties for optimum production and use but will undergo complete biodegradation in composting and on farm conditions. In the case of packaging nets, food contact materials regulations will be also taken into account for the material and additives selection. Furthermore, the biodegradable material used to manufacture the aimed products will be adapted to the very special manufacturing process necessary to produce them; Extrusion-Stretch-Fibrillation-Twist-Winder process for twines and Extrusion Melt Spinning process to produce yard for packaging nets. Both processes have in common the need of a high strength plastic material with high modulus and low strain. Nowadays, biodegradable materials have important limitations related to these properties. As the state of the art shows, no biodegradable material has been developed for fibre manufacture, fulfilling the above mentioned requirements. To face this challenge, PICUS will use the following approach: To develop a new biodegradable fibre (for twines and nets) as a synergic combination of two market available biodegradable polymers obtained by reactive extrusion (fuctionalisation). Apart from fuctionalisation, the R and D work will be also focused on compounding in order to improve the processability of the developed material and the fibre properties.
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