In cooperation with project partners from BASF, Munich Technical University, and the University of Hamburg, scientists at Siemens’ global research unit Corporate Technology developed an alternative for the standard polystyrene-based acrylonitrite-butadiene-styrene (ABS) polymer, which is frequently used for consumer products.
The new composite material, a competitive alternative to ABS, contains polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), which is made from renewable raw materials such as palm oil and starch. Since PHB is brittle, polypropylene carbonate (PPC) from BASF is added to make it softer.
PPC consists of 43% carbon dioxide (by weight), which is obtained from power plant emissions using a separation process. In addition to being transparent, biodegradable, and resistant to light, PPC can be easily processed.
More than 70% of the new mixture is made of green polymers. The new material is a suitable alternative for ABS in practice, as demonstrated by Bosch-Siemens-Hausgeräte (BSH), which used it to make a vacuum cleaner cover under series-production conditions. In cooperation with BSH and BASF, the Siemens researchers now want to examine whether they can replace other types of plastic used by BSH with CO2-based composite materials.
The new material is the result of a three-year project on research into CO2 as an ingredient for polymers, funded by the German Research Ministry.