|(第 1 篇) 【新知】重量輕又具環境永續優點，爆米花有沒有機會變成保麗龍？|
作者 Daisy Chuang | 發布日期 2021 年 11 月 19 日 12:00 | 分類 環境科學 , 自然科學
德國哥廷根大學的教授 Alireza Kharazipour 早在十年前就有這個想法，他在就算在電影院觀影也心心念念科學研究，買了一袋爆米花後腦中就冒出這個發想，希望能用爆米花變成便宜、可生物分解與永續的發泡聚苯乙烯（EPS，也就是保麗龍）。
爆米花保麗龍也已獲得德國 Bachl 集團認可，技術商業化後可用於建築隔熱、防護／絕緣包裝、運動器材部件和輕型汽車部件等。Kharazipour 表示，這是身為一名科學家對永續環境所做出的貢獻，拒絕塑膠製品。
Popcorn used to create an eco-friendly alternative to polystyrene foam
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam is a problematic material, in that it's cheap and lightweight but also non-biodegradable and difficult to recycle. German scientists have developed a possible alternative, though – foam made out of popcorn.
Georg August University's Prof. Alireza Kharazipour first got the idea over 10 years ago, when he bought a bag of popcorn at a movie theater. Since then, his team has devised a method of using the stuff in an inexpensive, biodegradable, renewable-source, EPS-alternative foam.
The production process begins by mechanically shredding maize grains into granules, then using pressurized steam to expand (or "pop") them. Next, a plant-protein-derived bonding agent is mixed in with the expanded granules, after which the mixture is pressed into a mold. Once the bonding agent has cured, the resulting sheet, block or other item is removed from the mold and is ready for use.
According to the university, the foam absorbs heat better than EPS, it is much less flammable, and it can be composted, shredded for reuse, used to produce biogas, or even utilized as animal feed once discarded (and no, there's no word on whether or not people can eat it). Additionally, along with the maize kernels, corn industry waste such as broken cobs can be utilized in its production.
The technology has recently been licensed to Germany's Bachl Group, which will be commercializing it for use in building insulation. Other possible applications for the material include protective/insulating packaging, sports equipment components and lightweight automotive parts.
"I think this is my contribution as a scientist for a clean environment, free of plastic-based products," says Kharazipour.
Press release: Insulation using popcorn?
Press release: Insulation using popcorn?
No. 181 - 16.11.2021
Forest scientists at Göttingen University develop plant-based, environmentally friendly material
Building insulation has become an increasingly important topic in recent years. Good exterior insulation reduces heating costs, which means lower CO2 emissions. Nowadays, sustainable natural insulation materials are already available for the interiors of buildings. But what does sustainability really mean? It means the material should be environmentally friendly and made from renewable raw materials, it must have good thermal insulation and fire protection, and it must be easy to recycle at the end of its useful life. A research group at the University of Göttingen has long been researching manufacturing processes for products made of popcorn that are sustainable and efficient. The University has now agreed a licence agreement with the Bachl Group for the commercial use of the process and the products for building insulation.
The market is dominated by conventional insulation materials made of plastics or mineral fibre with about 90% of the market share. In fact, plastics derived from petroleum are used for exterior insulation. Could plastic exterior insulation also be replaced by sustainable materials? A research group at the Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology – Chemie und Verfahrenstechnik von Verbundwerkstoffen (chemistry and process engineering of composite materials) – at the University of Göttingen has now succeeded in developing a novel process. Based on its many years of experience in the field of renewable raw materials, the group has managed to develop a process by which insulation boards made of “granulated” popcorn can be produced that have excellent thermal insulation properties and good protection against fire. The great advantage of this granular material is that it is a plant-based, environmentally friendly and a sustainable alternative to the products derived from petroleum currently used in the industry.
"This new process, based on that of the plastics industry, enables the cost-effective production of insulation boards at an industrial scale," explains the head of the research group, Professor Alireza Kharazipour. "Especially in the field of insulation in construction, this ensures that natural insulation materials are no longer just niche products." In addition, the new popcorn products have water-repellent properties, which opens up even more opportunities for practical applications and extends their useful life.
Michael Küblbeck, group Managing Director of the exclusive divisional licensing partner Bachl, adds: "We are delighted to be launching such an innovative insulation product using popcorn onto the market together with the University of Göttingen. For us, this is another important milestone in our strategic development towards becoming an integrated, multi-material insulation supplier. Popcorn insulation complements our quality range perfectly and means we can respond even more precisely to the different requirements of the market and our customers."
The licence agreement between the University and Bachl was brokered by MBM ScienceBridge GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Göttingen Public Law Foundation. The agency acts for a total of nine universities and scientific institutions in Lower Saxony: It examines scientific inventions for the possibility of a patent application and for economic potential. It then takes care of worldwide marketing and negotiates, supervises and monitors licensing agreements. The current portfolio includes projects from the fields of bio-medicine, medical technology, metrology, chemistry, physics, forestry and agricultural sciences.
Your mind to my mind,
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