German composites specialist Jelu claims to have developed a fully compostable biocomposite for industrial processing. The new material, which is made from polylactides (PLA) and wood fibres is a wood plastic composite (WPC), which can be recycled in composting plants. The group says that it is suitable for injection moulding and extrusion on conventional plastics processing machines.
Jelu says that it compounds PLA with wood fibres to form a homogeneous material that consists of 100% renewable resources. In its basic blend, the compound contains 40% PLA and 60% wood fibres. The material is granulated, as the processing of granulates makes it possible to create extremely homogeneous end products. The WPC granulate reportedly demonstrates consistent running properties on the machine, facilitating a higher output. Compounding also gives the biocomposite a higher density, improving the properties of the material. As a result, products have greater strength and stiffness.
Jelu only uses fibres obtained from selected woods that have specifically defined properties. Only processed fibres that meet certain criteria, such as having a fixed grain size and being of the same type of wood, are used. This is supposed to allow the group to set the biocomposite’s physical and mechanical properties to specific values. By using additives, the characteristics can be varied and adjusted to individual applications. Jelu biocomposites meet with German standards for use in foods and toys. Wood-plastic composites are typically used in construction applications such as extruded profile decking.