New environmentally friendly polymer foam

The production of the polymer foam will initially replace polyurethane foam in the manufacture of moulded cups for bras. However, there are many more intended uses such as linings in sports and outdoor clothing, carpeting, as well as in car interiors.

Today's processes for manufacturing and recycling polyurethane foam contribute significantly to both carbon dioxide emissions and littering in nature. Thus the researchers want to develop, together with the industry, a method for combining biologically hydrolysed chicken feathers on the one hand and bio-based and biodegradable polymers on the other. The intention is to manufacture an alternative to flexible polyurethane foam.

"This foam will be completely bio-based and biodegradable," says Professor Mikael Skrifvars, of the University of Borås.

The project starts with the production of the raw materials, after which different material mixtures will be manufactured via extrusion*. The foam is formed via the addition of foam formers, or by using an expanding gas during extrusion. The properties will then be evaluated and the best material mixtures will then be manufactured in greater quantities.  Next, samples will be produced together with the end user Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) and financial calculations will be made.*Extrusion is a technique for manufacturing plastic objects that have a consistent cross-section. To achieve this, a polymer material is pressed or pulled through a mould or die.

"The University of Borås has the roll of developing a flexible bio-based polymer foam through extrusion; in addition, we will evaluate its properties as well as manufacture the material on a larger scale," says Mikael Skrifvars.

The project group consists of Bioextrax AB, the University of Borås, MUEHLMEIER Bodyshaping GmbH, and H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB.

The project runs from May 2020 to April 2022.

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The University of Borås has been granted SEK 1.3 million for the project. The project is funded by Vinnova within the call: Hypothesis testing step 2 in Bioinnovation spring 2020. Mikael Skrifvars, Professor of Polymer Technologies, is project manager for the university's role in the project.

More about research in Polymer technology

More about the research area Resource recovery

To Mikael Skrifvar's research profile