Master thesis - Biodegradation of wood-based composites

Biodegradation of wood-based composites: elucidating the influence of composition/processing on biodegradation and end-of-life applications


Background

Biofiber Tech is a Stockholm-based startup, with the vision to shape a sustainable future. Our innovative & patented technology, constitutes wood fibers more “plastic-like“ so, they can be used for plastic product manufacturing and reduce reliance on fossil-based plastics. The produced materials are implementable in applications within automotive, electronics, household products, and/or other related fields. Biofiber Tech’s sustainable wood fibers can replace up to 51% of all plastics (PE, PP, ABS, PLA, etc.) in a product.



Project description

The overuse of fossil-based plastics in modern societies has heavily affected the environment globally. The massive amounts of carbon emissions during their production and their end-of-life by-products make the need to substitute conventional plastics with more sustainable materials urgent. Over the years, huge effort has been undertaken towards this goal. One possible way is to produce Wood Polymer Composites (WPC’s) which can partially replace plastics in everyday applications.


Biofiber Tech has contributed to this field by developing an innovative and patented technology to change the characteristics of wood fibers. Wood fibers, which naturally are hydrophilic, become very hydrophobic after undergoing our treatment. This enables facile mixing of the fibers with a broad range of plastics (for instance biobased, biodegradable, recycled etc.) and hence, production of various products with a reduced carbon footprint.


Biofiber Tech wants to investigate the end-of-life behaviour for one such formulation which in theory shall be fully degraded to CO2, water, and biomass within 1 year in natural environment. To do this, the material will be exposed to soil, under controlled conditions, and its biodegradation will be monitored and analysed. Moreover, the student will take this study one step further by investigating innovative ways of producing even more circular materials. Different ways to implement additional ingredients will be studied in order to promote the end-of-life “applications” of the materials, making them not only fully biodegradable but also useful after disposal. The results of this study could launch a new, premium formulation from Biofiber Tech on the market.



Aim:

The aim of the project is to study the biodegradation process of Biofiber Tech’s materials by monitoring their behaviour upon soil exposure. Moreover, the study will include the

possibility of implementing new ingredients in the materials which can withstand standard processing routes and still be functional after the products end of life. This information will help Biofiber Tech to i) increase the understanding of our material, ii) produce more circular materials, iii) enable further marketing iv) potentially launch a new material formulation on the market


Project Goals

Study the biodegradation behaviour of Biofiber Tech’s materials, and the possibility of producing more circular materials by:


  • Exposing the material to soil to mimic natural degradation conditions

  • Measuring the release of CO2 during the soil exposure following a biodegradation standard

  • Analysing how the biodegradation affects the material properties

  • Investigating the possibility of implementing new ingredients in the material which shall:

  • Tolerate standard material processing

  • Be carried during the product’s expected lifetime

  • Be “released” as the material degrades in natural conditions

  • Still be functional after material’s disposal


Expected deliverables

Towards the end of the project, the student is expected to:

- Master thesis report

- Final presentation (For KTH examiner and BFT employed)


For the right candidate, the master thesis may result in an employment!


Contact information:

Supervisor, Luis Valencia, luis.valencia@biofibertech.com, 0730959260

Supervisor, Dimitrios Georgouvelas, dimitrios.georgouvelas@biofibertech.com, 0766518066