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pilotplants

Pilot plants & services

Network 1: Starting from biomass

Technical Services for Nanoadditives and Raw Materials

Network 1 will oversee the selection and logistics of biomass, its extraction of raw materials and production of different nanoadditives by the treatment and/or reaction of these raw materials.

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Recovery of raw materials, solvents, monomers, and oligomers from biomass
  • Biomass pre-treatment including enzymatic hydrolysis
  • Extraction of biomaterials from biomass, strain engineering and cultivation of microorganisms
  • Cooking and bleaching of lignocellulosic materials

Infrastructure:

  • Multipurpose bioprocessing pilot plant with stainless steel, steam-sterilizable fermenters of 10L, 50L, 200L
  • Pilot scale downstream processing equipment
  • Process monitoring capabilities (fermentation and DSP, integrated control software)

Application field:

  • Sugar conversion by fermentation
  • Fibres for papers/boards, CMF/CNF
  • Materials for textile, cosmetic, packaging, biomedical applications, automotive, structural applications, agriculture,…

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Production of CMF/CNF with mechano-enzymatic treatment with homogeniser and twin screw extruder
  • Production of CNC by acid hydrolysis of cellulose
  • Production of lignin from black liquors by batch of 5 kg as a powder
  • Production of nano-lignin through the application of mechanical treatment to the lignin

 

Infrastructure:

Twin screw extruder with following characteristics:

  • Evolum 32 bivis extruder (Clextral)
  • Flow: 5 to 20 kg/h in equivalent dry matter content
  • Screw elements diameter: 32mm
  • Total length of barrel: 1280 mm
  • Motor power: 50 kW
  • Rotation speed: 300 – 1200 rpm
  • Temperature regulation of the barrel: 30 to 300°C

Application field:

  • Cosmetic
  • Packaging
  • Coatings, paintings
  • Building block chemicals for adhesives, carbon fibres, phenol sources

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Synthesis and development of tailor-made block copolymers based on biodegradable materials

Infrastructure:

  • Polymerization reactors (3L, 10L and 15L)
  • Distillation column to perform polycondensation reactions
  • Inline viscosimeter

Application field:

  • Food and cosmetic packaging
  • 3D printing applications

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Specific additive solutions with improved functionalities for food and cosmetic packaging industry
  • Green chemistry routes for preparing sustainable additives

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Metallic nanoparticles with antibacterial properties
  • Synthesis of ionic liquids and their application to AgNPs synthesis and adhesion

Infrastructure:
Lab scale production: General scheme of extraction polyphenols from grean tea and synthesis of silver nanoparticles

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Antioxidant, antibacterial, nutraceutical, and drug delivery platforms
  • Development and production of functional nanocapsules at pilot scale through nanoemulsion process. Delivery of the product in water-based dispersions or in dried state. Characterization of the product, production of CNC by acid hydrolysis of cellulose.
  • Development of functional nanocapsules without the need of organic solvents. Finishing coatings on substrates, characterization of the product.

Infrastructure:

  • Jacketed glass reactor with a maximum volume of 10 L equipped with a condenser that also works under low pressure conditions, and several accessories to ensure the preparation of the nanoemulsion and the efficiency of downstream steps.

Application fields:

  • To be incorporated into polymer based matrices, such as thermoplastic compounding and/ or liquid coating formulations (water or solvent based)
  • To be directly deposited or coated on packaging surfaces

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Nanocapsules with (bi)functionality and suitable for different applications, namely packaging (e.g. extension of shelf-life), textile (e.g. cosmetotextiles) and cosmetic applications;
  • Scalable process;
  • Green chemistry approach – use of green solvents;
  • Environmentally friendly nanomaterials – low environmental impact process and compostable nanomaterial.

Network 2: Starting from nanomaterials

Technical Services for Bionanocomposites

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Functionalization process in liquid and gaseous medium onto the nanoparticles to achieve a good compatibility with the polymeric matrices and resins for the development of bionanocomposites
  • Chromatogeny grafting to bring hydrophobic properties to hydrophilic substrates without impairing the end of life.
  • Spray drying systems to obtain nanoadditives in powder form
  • Reactor of intercalation of metallic nanoparticles into the interlamellar spaces of the clay and deposition on CNF

Infrastructure:

  • Tubular furnace for gas-solid reactions (max. Tª 1200ºC)
  • ATEX reactor (100 L, 20/230ºC, 3 bars) with pHmeter and conductivity to better control the reactions
  • ATEX reactor (100 L, 80ºC, 3 bars)
  • ATEX reactor (20 L, -10/250ºC, 10 bars)
  • Spray drier for water-based nanodispersions

Application fields:

  • To be incorporated into thermoplastic polymeric matrices for food and cosmetic packaging
  • Corrugated board resistant to rain/water
  • Health and medical papers
  • Technical paper for industry and buildings; filters, membranes
  • Papers for agriculture
  • Baking papers
  • Sacks, bags, wrapping papers, lids, box boards, trays, cups, plates
  • Oil absorbent paper

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Green chemistry approach
  • More cost efficiency
  • Environmentally friendly nanomaterials

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Compounding process of biopolymers with nanoadditives
  • Polymer compounding (Lab, pilot, and semi-industrial scales)
  • Chemical modification of thermoplastic biopolymers by grafting nanomaterials through reactive extrusion. Capacity of working with powder and liquid reagents by gravimetric and/or volumetric feeding.

Infrastructure:

  • Laboratory extruder (proof of concept experiments)
  • Reactive extrusion pilot plant (scale up)
  • 2 different compounding lines composed by twin-screw extruder (40 L/D COPERION, and 44 to 60 L/D LEISTRITZ extrusion lines)
  • MiniTwin gravimetric feeder (specialized in low feeding range capacities)
  • In-line rheometer
  • In-line spectroscopic devices

Application fields:

  • Packaging
  • Textile,
  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Raw material providers for plastic industry
  • Biomedical applications
  • Agriculture

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • REX technology provides stable and irreversible covalent bonds, achieving a uniform distribution of functional moieties into the polymer matrix, and avoiding particle aggregation, migration and leaching.
  • One-step solvent free route to produce novel and high-performance materials with new functionalities
  • Mild and environmentally friendly conditions
  • Tailored configuration by using a processing simulation software
  • Preparation of nanodispersion with low required amount of nanoadditives
  • Control in real-time of the dispersion grade by rheological and spectroscopic measurements through the in-line monitoring devices

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Dispersion nanoparticles by in situ polymerization
  • Preparation of stable polymer-based dispersions with functional nanoadditives

Infrastructure:

  • Synthesis reactor Kiloclave Type 3E/lL/60bar (Büchi AG)(Vessel Volume 2 litres)
  • Jacketed glass reactor with a maximum volume of 10 L equipped with accessories to ensure the preparation of suitable nanodispersions such as mechanical or ultrasonication homogenization with recirculation of liquid media systems.
  • ATEX reactor (100 L, 20/230ºC, 3 bars) with an ultra-high shear mixer to get a high dispersion grade and a pH meter to better control dispersion and stability of the polymeric nanodispersions

 

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Control in real-time of the pH of the nanodispersions
  • Stable bionanodispersion to be used as coatings on various substrates: paper, plastic, textile.

Network 3: Starting from bionanocomposites

Technical Services for Bionanoproducts

Network 3 includes pilot plants to obtain bionanoproducts from the different bionanocomposites of network 2.

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Production of multilayer films: co-extrusion process up to 5 layers
  • Production of monolayer films of biopolymers with bioadditives
  • Evaluation and validation of packaging prototypes obtained by a thermoforming process. Manufacturing of SLA 3D-printed moulds.

Application field:

  • Packaging/ Food Packaging
  • Agriculture

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Specific solutions for packaging industry with improved functionality
  • Production of thin monolayer bio-films, with tunable properties, based on biopolymer matrices reinforced with different nano-additives.
  • More sustainability

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Evaluation of final properties of paper with nanoadditives in mass
  • Production of CNF films and CNF laminated paper/board (lab and pilot scale)

Application fields:
Packaging

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Non-woven fibre production and consulting services
  • Non-woven meltblown production and consulting services
  • Monofilament melt spinning (possibility of biocomponent and melt coating monofilaments)
  • Multifilament melt spinning
  • Functionalized knitted textile structures
  • Hot-melt laminator
  • Knife-coating (on air or on cylinder) system and padding (foulard) system
  • Spray cabinet: Surface coating of fabrics and non-woven substrates to give them functional properties and increase the added value of the product
  • Nanobubbles for finishing and dyeing

 

Infrastructure:

Melt-blown plant (Reifenhäuser Reicofil GmbH & Co. KG)

  • Extrusion non-woven line with a working width of 60 cm
  • Raw material: PP, PBT, PE, PC, TPU, bio-polymers
  • Filament fineness: < 1µm to 10 µm
  • Throughput of 10 kg polymer granulate per hour,
  • Multirow nozzle unit,
  • Electro charging unit used for online surface modification of filaments during the meltblown process.

Fibre non-woven line (DILO Systems GmbH)

  • Working width from 100 up to 240 cm, working speed max. 10 m/min,
  • Processing of natural and biobased synthetic fibres ranging from 1 – 28 dtex fibre fineness and 40 to 80 mm fibre length,
  • Mass per unit area of fibre nonwovens between 50 – 1500 g/m2
  • Subsequent web bonding is done by needling, stitch-bonding or spunlacing

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Green chemistry approach
  • More cost efficiency
  • Environmentally friendly nanomaterials
  • Technical trials at semi-industrial scale

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Injection of rigid packaging: injection molding of test specimens and packaging
  • 3D printing by FDM process

Infrastructure:

  • Injection molding machine BATTENFELD HM210/45.
  • Interchangeable inserts mould for ISO specimens or prototypes.
  • Wide range of packaging moulds.
  • ISO 1A, ISO 5A tensile specimen moulds.

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Feasibility analysis of customized filaments for 3D printing.
  • Printing service by homemade 3D printer that allow avoiding some issues related with the hygroscopy of polymers and additives (tendency to water-absorption), and the warping issues due to temperature gradients on the printed parts.
  • Prototyping of printed parts from customized filaments.
  • Biomaterial cards in different softwares, obtained by characterization of printed specimens and mechanical/thermo-mechanical performance simulations.
  • Minimization of post-processing waste
  • Produce rigid packaging optimizing material consumption.
  • Obtain biodegradable packaging with enhanced barrier properties.
  • Decrease market lead time when using biopolymers for injection blow molding.

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Extrusion foaming: Development of biobased polymer foams by extrusion using up to 5 different blowing agents. Design of formulations for foaming, both for high-density (weight reduction) and low-density applications.
  • Bead foaming: Development of biobased polymer foams by bead foaming. Design of formulations for obtaining low-density bead foams and solutions for molding the beads to generate parts.

Infrastructure:

  • Extrusion foaming pilot plant:
    • Single line with output up to 5 kg/h.
    • Possibility of blending up to 5 blowing agents with precise dosage.
    • Line fully instrumented to monitor pressure and temperature.
    • In-line measurements of cellular structure and density.
  • Bead foaming pilot plant:
    • Capacity up to 1 kg/h.
    • High pressure reactor to work with pressures up to 300 bar.
    • Precise temperature control from -40 to 250 ºC.
    • Possibility of working with different blowing agents and co-blowing agents.
    • Lab-scale molding process to produce prototypes.
  • Characterization lab:
    • Climate chamber to set moisture and temperature conditions before testing.
    • Thermal properties and rheological evaluation (foamability study).
    • Mechanical properties and dynamic mechanical analysis.
    • Acoustic absorption and fire resistance.
    • Detailed analysis of the foam structure and evaluation of the relationship between process-structure-properties.

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Fabrication of foamed prototypes at lab-scale with low material consumption.
  • Validation of polymers, additives and formulations intended for foaming applications.
  • Characterization of foams and assessment of applicability.
  • Specialized know-how in the field of cellular materials.
  • In-deep analysis of the foam process.

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Produce coated flexible substrates with biobased functional liquid formulations: Roll-to-roll slot-die coating and roll-to-roll spray coating (cura UV) & Flexo and gravure coating
  • Nanofiber-based coatings by electrospinning process: nanofiber-based coating of different substrates employing biopolymers
  • Spray coating of cellulose nanofibers on 3D-shape object
  • Coating of nanoadditives formulation on 2D cellulosic substrates

Infrastructure:

  • Roll-to-roll spray-coating pilot line with different types of nozzles and configurations, and thermal or UV curing
  • Roll-to-roll slot-die coating pilot line for application of coatings up to 300 mm of width

Specification of the roll-to-roll spray-coating pilot line at CeNTI’s facilities.

Conveyor belt speed 2 – 20 m/min
Nozzles Ultrassound or anti-drip nozzles
Drying / Cure Thermal or UV cure

 

Specification of the roll-to-roll slot-die coater pilot line at CeNTI’s facilities.

Coating Width 300 mm
Line speed 0-10 m/min
Coatings viscosity 1 – 1,000 mPAS
Roll diameter 500 mm (maximum)

Rotary Koater at ITENE – Automatic printer, coater and laminator for flexible substrates papers, plastic films and metallic foils. This machine is versatile due to its interchangeable heads to perform flexographic, gravure and slot die applications. Besides two ovens for drying, it has also in-line corona treatment and UV curing.

  • Width: 300 mm
  • Speed: 0.5 – 5 m/min ; 5 – 50 m/min
  • Surface treatment: corona
  • Drying: max. 200ºC
  • Curing system: UV curing
  • Printing processes: flexography and gravure (theoretical vol. 10-50 cm3/m2)

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Coated products with functionalities and suitable for different applications, namely packaging and textiles.
  • Scalable and low environmental impact processes.

Additional support

For a holistic approach the technical pilot plant networks are supported by additional technical and non-technical services.

Technical services: Process parametrization
Non-technical services: Route to market

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Energy dispersive X-ray fluroescence (EDXRF) techniques applied to inspection and monitoring of new materials or coatings
  • Process optimization through simulation: advanced numerical simulation tools are used to optimize the design step considering the final applications

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Monitoring systems based in photonics enabling to upgrade the capabilities of targeted processes in terms of optimization, reliability and quality control

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Models for optimization of composites formulation and of some processing parameters, on methodologies for nanocomposites virtual characterization and on a neural network able to predict directly the properties of nanocomposites from their constituents
  • Modelling of printing materials and simulation of 3D-printed parts behaviour

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • LCA measures and calculates the lifetime environmental impact of the product or service by both, the use of resources and the emissions created
  • Life cycle cost assessment: economic evaluation of a product, service or an engineering project across its lifetime, which helps decision makers to choose the best investment plan, on the basis of the least cost.
  • Social life cycle assessment (S-LCA): information on social and socio-economic aspects for decision making, in the prospect to improve the social performance of an organisation or a product and ultimately the well-being of associated stakeholders

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Definition of an integrated risk assessment approach (IATA) or nanobiomaterials
  • Hazard profiling assessment services
  • Exposure assessment services in work places
  • Risk management services
  • Definition of Safe-by-Design strategies for specific industrial cases

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Compostability analysis: material characterization, biodegradation, disintegration and compost quality
  • Recyclability analysis: test of recyclability according to EN13430 standard

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Assessment on the verification of compliance of any kind of food contact material
  • Legislative vigilance
  • Diagnosis and implementation of GMP standards
  • Legal diagnosis/ supplier management
  • Assessment, preparation of documentation and support to apply for the authorization process of new substances and recycled processes for plastic materials
  • Technical support for the challenge test to apply for the authorization of recycled processes for plastic materials

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Compostability analysis: material characterization, biodegradation, disintegration and compost quality
  • Recyclability analysis: test of recyclability according to EN13430 standard

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Market study to evaluate the potential
  • Process design and process flow diagrams (PFD)
  • Economic evaluation
  • Risk analysis (to provide insight into the risk of the process for investors)
  • Environmental analysis

Expertise and Capabilities:

  • Business model canvas applied methodology (branding and customer relationship management, pricing and sales, key activities and key resources, key partners and cost structure)
  • Strategic workshops and webinars to presentation and networking in front of an audience of potential users
  • Mentoring sessions and follow-up reports covering the most relevant aspects of a business according to the specific needs
  • Market analysis to study the dynamics of a specific market (volume, value, potential customer segments)
  • SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) and PESTLE (political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental) analyses
  • Regulatory compliance and advisory services (interpretation and implementation of regulatory requirements, legal design of business activities)
  • Legal workshops on regulatory challenges and regulatory updates
  • IPR management and protection: IP strategy and IP advisory services