<body> --------------
Contact Us       Consulting       Projects       Our Goals       About Us
home » Archive »
Nature Blog Network

    Mongabay, a leading resource for news and perspectives on environmental and conservation issues related to the tropics, has launched Tropical Conservation Science - a new, open access academic e-journal. It will cover a wide variety of scientific and social studies on tropical ecosystems, their biodiversity and the threats posed to them. Tropical Conservation Science - March 8, 2008.

    At the 148th Meeting of the OPEC Conference, the oil exporting cartel decided to leave its production level unchanged, sending crude prices spiralling to new records (above $104). OPEC "observed that the market is well-supplied, with current commercial oil stocks standing above their five-year average. The Conference further noted, with concern, that the current price environment does not reflect market fundamentals, as crude oil prices are being strongly influenced by the weakness in the US dollar, rising inflation and significant flow of funds into the commodities market." OPEC - March 5, 2008.

    Kyushu University (Japan) is establishing what it says will be the world’s first graduate program in hydrogen energy technologies. The new master’s program for hydrogen engineering is to be offered at the university’s new Ito campus in Fukuoka Prefecture. Lectures will cover such topics as hydrogen energy and developing the fuel cells needed to convert hydrogen into heat or electricity. Of all the renewable pathways to produce hydrogen, bio-hydrogen based on the gasification of biomass is by far both the most efficient, cost-effective and cleanest. Fuel Cell Works - March 3, 2008.

    An entrepreneur in Ivory Coast has developed a project to establish a network of Miscanthus giganteus farms aimed at producing biomass for use in power generation. In a first phase, the goal is to grow the crop on 200 hectares, after which expansion will start. The project is in an advanced stage, but the entrepreneur still seeks partners and investors. The plantation is to be located in an agro-ecological zone qualified as highly suitable for the grass species. Contact us - March 3, 2008.

    A 7.1MW biomass power plant to be built on the Haiwaiian island of Kaua‘i has received approval from the local Planning Commission. The plant, owned and operated by Green Energy Hawaii, will use albizia trees, a hardy species that grows in poor soil on rainfall alone. The renewable power plant will meet 10 percent of the island's energy needs. Kauai World - February 27, 2008.

Creative Commons License

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Report: naturally reinforced plastic composites becoming cost-competitive green technology in EU

Frost & Sullivan has presented a new report titled "European Markets for Naturally-Reinforced Plastic Composites", in which it shows that plastics containing a certain fraction of biobased materials are becoming cost-competitive in the EU. The report provides information on the technical and market developments in the markets for naturally reinforced plastic composites in decking, insulation and automotive applications. The research zooms in on the following technologies: wood plastic composites and natural fibre composites, including flax and hemp fibres in sectors including the automotive, building, sports equipment and aeronautical industries.

Due to escalating oil prices, any technology that reduces the dependence on oil has a fighting chance. Although naturally reinforced plastic composites (NRPC) have plastic in their composition, their use limits the amount of it necessary to manufacture a certain product. There have also been efforts to decrease the amount of oil-derived content. NRPC are going to remain a competitive technology to replace oil-based materials, as wood and natural fibre prices are unlikely to grow faster than oil prices. Not all ‘green’ technologies are cost-competitive, like renewable energy, which remains fairly expensive. This factor is, therefore, a strong driving force in the NRPC market.

NRPC help lower the dependence on oil while remaining cost-competitive. The current penetration of wood plastic composites (WPC) in decking and natural fibre composites (NFC) in the automotive segment remains below 10 per cent, with further potential to increase it. - Frost & Sullivan

However, users of NFC have concerns over the available capacity and the effect of a drastic reduction in European agricultural subsidies. WPC products vary greatly in quality and without a global standard, consumers have difficulties distinguishing low-quality products from top range ones.

Potential further market penetration

Both the environmental benefits and cost competitiveness of NRPC give these materials the capacity to replace plastic or non-renewable reinforcements. The main market segments for NRPC in 2008 are automotive, building and technical parts. Market penetration of WPC in their main application, decking, is less than 5 per cent. Many participants consider that the penetration of WPC could go up to 15 per cent, similar to the U.S. decking market:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The penetration of NFC in automotive applications is slightly higher, but continues to be below 10 per cent. Companies involved in the automotive NFC market think that from now on it would be more difficult to increase market penetration in this sector, since most OEMs already use them. However, while the NFC automotive market is developed in Europe, other regions could provide more growth. Moreover, most OEMs use NFC in just one model and good performance would encourage them to implement its use more widely.

Growth opportunities abound for NRPC in Europe. Ultimately, however, suppliers will have to concentrate on raising public awareness and product development to boost market penetration in existing segments and open up new opportunities. If injection-moulded parts made with NRPC are successful, the potential for market penetration will certainly increase, as the number of possible applications will grow significantly.

Raising public awareness will be key in the development of NRPCs. By providing more information to end users on their capabilities and to the general public on their environmental advantages, market participants will increase demand. - Frost & Sullivan

Major WPC participants are already working on product branding and the implementation of global standards. In anticipation of future market demands, NRPC market participants are developing new materials, using thermoset resins and even bioplastics, and new processing techniques, like injection moulding.

Picture: flax, hemp, sisal, wool and other natural fibers are used to make 50 Mercedes-Benz E-Class components. Credit: Mercedes-Benz.

MarketWatch (BusinessWire): Naturally Reinforced Plastic Composites Emerge as a Cost-competitive Green Technology in European Markets - July 1, 2008.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home