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Environmental and Cost Assessment of a Polypropylene Nanocomposite

By A.L. Roes, E. Marsili, E. Nieuwlaar and M.K. Patel

Abstract

This paper describes a study on the use of a polypropylene (PP)/layered silicate nanocomposite as packaging film, agricultural film, and automotive panels. The study’s main question was “Are the environmental impacts and costs throughout the life cycle of nanocomposite products lower than those of products manufactured from conventional materials?” The conventional (benchmark) materials studied were pure polypropylene as packaging film, pure polyethylene as agricultural film, and glass fiber-reinforced polypropylene as automotive panels. In all three cases, the use of the PP nanocomposite resulted in a reduction of the amount of material used, while ensuring the same functionality. Material reduction was estimated using Ashby’s material indices and amounted to −9% for packaging film, −36.5% for agricultural film, and −1.25% for automotive panels. It goes without saying that a product’s impact on the environment will decrease when less material is used. The production and incorporation of nanoparticles, however, may have additional impacts. We found clear environmental benefits throughout the entire life cycle when the PP nanocomposite is used in the manufacture of agricultural film. We noted some cost benefits when the nanocomposite is used in the production of agricultural film and automotive panels. If the price of nanoclay is at most €5,000 tonne then the cost of nanocomposite packaging film is also lower than that of the conventionally produced product

Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:dspace.library.uu.nl:1874/23812
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