03 Oct Andaltec develops sustainable materials for the automotive, packaging or construction sectors from agricultural waste within the Cervera Agromatter project
Andaltec Technological Centre is advancing into the Cervera Agromatter project, aimed at producing new biologically-based materials from agricultural waste. These novel components will also be biodegradable, and they will present several applications in sectors such as packaging, automotive, textile manufacturing or construction. Researchers from the Martos-based centre have already started the third development stage, focused on the production of demonstrators from those bioplastics obtained in the course of this project.
The sustainable composite materials developed by the five institutions integrated in the Cervera Agromatter network constitute the raw materials employed to manufacture car rear-view mirrors (counting with the suitable mechanical properties), bio-based resins for building cladding (excellent for thermal and acoustic insulation) or film for greenhouses obtained through blown extrusion (with special properties that filter certain sunlight wavelengths , so that only the most adequate for the crops are allowed in).
Andaltec has already gone through the previous stages in this project successfully. The first step was lignin extraction (a complex biopolymer present in ligneous vegetable matter) from the very abundant Spanish agricultural waste, such as fodder, river reeds or rice shells. “The obtained lignin has been depolymerized in order to produce monolignols (the monomeric units preceding lignin), which will be added as additives to biodegradable plastic materials such as PLA (polylactic acid), which is provided by another institution participating in the Cervera Agromatter consortium. This process will allow for the production of new bio-based materials counting with special properties”, states María Ángeles Fontecha, technical researcher in Andaltec’s Lab area.
At a later stage, technicians from Andaltec conducted testing processes in which they mixed PLA with varying percentages of agricultural waste in order to obtain masterbatch (a homogeneous chipping mixture). Furthermore, technicians from Andaltec Lab have conducted reactive extrusion tests with the same PLA material, using different lignin percentages. They also carried out infusion tests with biodegradable resin atop a non-tissue matrix. “All the participating institutions in the Cervera Agromatter consortium are achieving very good results, which will lead to propose solutions based on the Circular Economy aimed at building greenhouses, producing construction materials, packaging, textile products or more sustainable automotive parts”, as Fontecha explains.
The “Cervera Agromatter cluster” project intends to valorise agricultural waste, which is very abundant in Spain, by developing high added-value biomaterials within the Circular Economy framework. The inclusion in this Agromatter project is very significant for Andaltec, since it enables the Martos-based institution to achieve the status of Technological Centre of Excellence. This new consideration gives Andaltec access to the most important R&D funding programme for technological centres in Spain.
This project is funded by the Spanish Centre for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI), part of the Ministry for Science and Innovation, in the framework of the grant scheme for Technological Centres of Excellence “Cervera” CER-20211013. Cervera cluster is made up by the Association for Research in the Textile Industry (Aitex), the Technological Centre for Plastics (Andaltec), the Business Association “National Technological Centre for Agrofood” in Extremadura (CTAEX), the Business Research Association “Technological Centre for Canned Food” (CTNC) and the Technological Institute of Packaging, Transport and Logistics (Itene).