Innofil3D and DuFor support the Clean2Antarctica project.

By: Jan Willem Slijkoord
Business Development Manager SPIC

Some great ideas are born in your own place. Liesbeth’s and Edwin’s dream ignited just at their kitchen table. After discarding so many food plastic packaging day by day, they realised that plastic waste is simply too valuable to be wasted. This was their turning-about to turn waste into something valuable: The Clean2antarctica project was born!

Positive change with impact

Clean2antarctica is about change. Positive change. And by creating impact, even when it is a small one. The essential mission is to create an inspirational journey towards sustainability by applying new technological, economical and behavioural activities which support the transition towards a circular economy.

Harsh environment

The conditions at the South Pole can simply be put as “challenging”. Temperatures can drop to below -50 oC! Cryogenic temperatures that force travellers to think over their potable water supplies. The rough snow surfaces require special transportation design. It is not an easily accessible environment. But despite this, the two adventurers decided to conquer the South Pole by means of renewable energy and sustainable materials. As a result, they aimed to develop a light-weight sun-energy powered vehicle made of recycled plastics, the Solar Voyager!

Developing by doing

To create your idea into something tangible means observing, trying, learning from making “mistakes” and continuously improving. So developing the Solar Voyager is teamwork, just like in the circular economy. Therefore, Clean2antarctica has relied much on the technology input of a myriad of partners to co-create the Solar Voyager. Innofil3D and DuFor joined the project because they share the same sustainability ambitions and values. In addition, Innofil3D and DuFor know that developing new sustainability solutions create  unexpected barriers and perseverance.

From recycled PET water bottles to strong structural PET vehicle Hexcores

The design of the Solar Voyager is based on the design of 4000 so-called Hexcores. The Hexcores are inspired by the very stiff, strong and light-weight honey-comb structures applied in airplane and aerospace structures, see figure 1. In other words, consistent material property, strong and light weight material is required. Quite suitable for the Solar Voyager on the South Pole. The 4000 Hexcores were printed on 30 Ultimaker FDM printers, see figure 2. A good and reliable printing performance was essential.

Figure 1. A single printed HexCore from InnoCircle PET

Figure 2. InnoCircle PET filament printed into HexCores

In close collaboration with Innofil3D and DuFor recycled PET waste from water bottles was selected. The water bottles are mainly collected from the Benelux. The bottles are hot washed, grinded and separated on colour. In this way clean flakes of a homogeneous colour are obtained. DuFor has, in close corporation with it’s sister company Cumapol, a vast experience to upgrade recycled PET into valuable and (more) sustainable near virgin PET material. After the recycling steps, the engineers of DuFor perform an after-polymerization (reaction)step to extend the recycled PET polymer chains. This step ensures homogeneous properties of the recycled PET. In addition, this recycled PET meets food-compliant regulations. It is estimated that 1 KG recycled PET has about a 50% lower CO2 footprint than 1 KG virgin PET made from oil. As result, recycled PET is significantly more sustainable than virgin PET.

The engineers of Innofil3D convert this plastic into InnoCircle PET filament. The equipment is capable to manufacture the filaments with a narrow diameter and roundness tolerance to ensure a good printing performance with excellent mechanical properties. Research has revealed that printed InnoCircle recycled PET is at least 30% stronger than virgin ABS under identical printing conditions. This proves that recycled PET is not only more sustainable but shows good mechanical performance for structural parts of the Solar Voyager as well!

In short, the whole recycling process results in a pure, consistent, food-safe and strong PET material with an excellent printing performance on FDM printers. It proofs that recycled materials can compete with virgin materials when it comes to performance. Therefore, DuFor and Innofil3D are confident in the reliability of InnoCircle PET in the Solar Voyager during its harsh journey at Antarctica, see figure 3 and 4. A good example that making a dream come true is truly teamwork!

Figure 3A and 3B. Assembled HexCores in the making of the Solar Voyager structure.

Interested what we could do for you?

Want to support Clean2Antacrtica project? Please have a look at the website https://www.clean2antarctica.nl/steun so we are sure the journey can really start in a couple of weeks.

Interested to know more about the potential of our recycled PET solution for your challenge? Our business scan assesses your opportunities quickly. Please feel free to contact Jan Willem Slijkoord to know more about it. Mail: jw.slijkoord@spic-emmen.com

About the Sustainable Polymer Innovation Cluster (SPIC)

The SPIC is an initiative in which industrial partners, knowledge partners (NHL Stenden) and local governments (Emmen / Province of Drenthe) have joined forces to develop, produce and market sustainable polymer solutions. The SPIC partners are located in Emmen, The Netherlands, and employ about 125 employees all together. The industrial SPIC partners are deeply integrated in the value chain, ranging from polymer making to converting polymers. Morssinkhof Plastics and Cumapol process about 75,000 ton virgin and recycled PET annually. Innofil3D makes bio-based and technical 3Dprinting filaments. HP moulding is a high-tech precision injection moulder with clean room facilities. In addition, NHL Stenden & Senbis Polymer Innovations are the SPIC knowledge partners. Their scientists and students focus on the development and upscaling of new recycled and bio-based polymer products.

To offer new sustainable polymer solutions, the SPIC partners focus on the development, upscaling and production of new polyester-based recycled and bio-based polymer products. The SPIC solutions are applied in a myriad of applications such as:

  • High-strength & compostable PLA yarns for cultivating tomatoes in greenhouses
  • Senbis: Wear-resistant, marine degradable bio-based fiber for fishery applications.
  • HP Mouldings manufactures rotable PHA cups for event & concert purposes
  • Innofil3D/BASF is a European market leader in 3Dprinting PLA filaments
  • Morssinkhof Plastics&Cumapol: food-grade recycled PET for Bar-Le-Duc water bottles

More detailed information about the SPIC? Have a look at www.spic-emmen.com.

Figure 4. The completed Solar Voyager (source: www.clean2antarctica.nl)

Contact us

SPIC-Emmen
Eerste Bokslootweg 17
7821 AT Emmen
The Netherlands

+31 591 69 2117
info@spic-emmen.com