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Laurel biocomposite purchases AMTEK microwave dryer to enhance performance

News International-French

10 May 2012

Laurel BioComposite LLC has made its second major capital equipment investment in its new production line with the purchase of an Amtek Microwave system from Ames, Iowa-based Cellencor LLC.

The system offers the capacity to dry up to 1000 lbs. of Bio-Res™ PE per hour with the flexibility to adjust moisture levels from 35 percent to 5 percent.  Equipped with two 100 kilowatt microwave generators and a 52 in. by 12 ft. stainless steel double door drying cavity, the system’s design features reduce energy consumption while providing higher quality Bio-Res PE for enhanced performance characteristics in finished plastics.  


The microwave dries Bio-Res PE before the material is milled and sent to the extruder for pelletizing. The ability to successfully control moisture content is a critical component for Laurel BioComposite. The company recently demonstrated this capability with the production of a 14 ft. kayak with 20 percent Bio-Res PE. Laurel BioComposite exhibited the kayak for the first time this month at the International Plastics Showcase in Orlando, Fla.


 “It made sense to show a product application where the increased stiffness and associated potential weight reduction gained by including Bio-Res PE combined with low moisture uptake were advantages,” says Tim Bearnes, CEO for Laurel BioComposite. “Roto-Molded products such as those represented by the kayak require large amounts of resin so the ability to use a superior, more cost-effective material that can also create a strong bond with other substances is important.  Displaying the kayak demonstrated an additional and exciting new use for Bio-Res PE.   The kayak was a show stopper, clearly validating the ability to incorporate 20 percent bio material in a roto-molded watercraft.”


Bio-Res PE is able to cost-effectively raise the renewable or “green” content of plastic products by as much as 40 percent.  The new bio-material is available in a pellet form which blends easily with polyethylene, polypropylenePLA and PHA matrices. The product has been tested to replace 20 to 40 percent of the neat resin reducing traditional petroleum-based resins in a variety of manufacturing processes for plastics by as much as 40 percent. Superior flow characteristics make the material unique in the bio additives market for thermoplastics. Bio-Res PE is especially suited for use in a range of industries including shipping, lawn and garden, agriculture and automotive applications. 


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