Using popcorn instead of polystyrene
Researchers at Göttingen University (Germany) developed a polystyrene-like material made of popcorn, which can be used as packaging and insulation material.
Polystyrene is a versatile material that is used in a range of fields, from packaging to insulation material. It is, however, unfortunately made of fossil fuels.
With the new process, inedible by-products of cornflakes production are granulated, before they are expanded (i.e. ‘popped’). The technology, said to be cost-effective, is based processes found in the plastic industry and allows for the production of a wide range of moulded parts. German cereal producer Nordgetreide has received a licence agreement for the commercial use of the process and products for the packaging sector.
The popcorn polystyrene is compostable and has water-repellent properties. In addition, it has excellent thermal insulation properties, which also makes it suitable as insulation material. German construction company Bachl Group has the licence to use the process to make building insulation.
Photos: Carolin Pertsch / Karl Bachl GmbH & Co. KG