Circular Economy Workshop of BioProt was held on 6.-7.9.2022 at VTT in Tampere. BioProt members got familiar with processing techniques of plastics and their testing. There was also possibility to see the filtration efficiency laboratory. In the Circular Economy Workshop, the Circularity Deck cards applied raised thoughts among the participants. Three kinds of face mask categories were examined: single-used, reusable and antiviral face masks.
BioProt is a two-year project which started at the beginning of 2022 and has been funded by Business Finland. BioProt includes six research institutes (LUT, LAB, VTT, JYU, Luke, HU), four companies with own projects (Lifa Air, Teknikum, Premix, Teknos) and five In-kind companies (HUS, Mehiläinen, Berner, Optitune, Lindström Group).
On the first day of the Workshop, we had opportunity to visit laboratories for plastic materials, pilot hall of plastics and filtration efficiency laboratory at VTT.
BioProt visited the pilot hall for plastics and different laboratories at VTT on 6.9.2022. The different processes from granulates to the bulk product was presented by Enni Luoma (VTT). It was possible to study the samples produced, giving a feel of the materials.
Participants had a chance to see the laboratory- and pilot-scale extrusion equipment and also the injection molding machines. Generally, thermoplastic polymers can be tested in small scale using laboratory apparatuses, such as extrusion foaming, production of extrusion films and fiber extrusion etc. In turn, with the pilot-scale flat membrane line, wet coating, extrusion coating and production of mono- or multilayered film with orienting the film in machine direction is possible.
Next we had a visiting round in the research laboratories. With the different equipment for thermal analysis, such as differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and micro-flow imaging (MFI), it is possible to study different properties of the polymers. For example, glass transition, melting, crystallinity, duration of temperature, thermal degradation and viscosity can be determined. Also scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and device to test mechanical properties of a sample (i.e. tensile-, compression-, bending experiments as well as impact strength test) were introduced.
Next we moved to VTT's filtration efficiency laboratory. Actually, the laboratory was a large pilot hall with different equipment. Inga Mattila (VTT) and Jani Hakala (VTT) introduced the filtration tests used for the face masks. In fact, lots of face masks have been tested there and that it was recognized clearly that quality of different face masks was varied during the Covid-19. However, scientific paper has not been published out of these results.
Circular Economy Workshop
On 7.9.2022 at VTT, Kaisa Grönman (LUT) introduced the Workshop to the participants. The Circularity Deck cards developed by Jan Konietzko at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands were used, including principles of Circular Economy with examples of different business models and illustrating how the principles have been applied in practice. Eventually, cards may identify gaps in the current approach and knowledge, making easier to identify actions or new ideas.
We used the Circularity Deck cards for three different types of face masks studied in BioProt: (1) singe-used surgical, (2) reusable and (3) antiviral face masks. Before brainstorming, the company members Mirella Lehtiö (Lifa-Air) and Minna Poikelispää (Teknikum), Varpu Marjomäki (JYU) and Tuula Jyske (Luke) gave short presentations on each category.
Researchers and members of the companies went through the cards together in groups, analyzing the importance of the questions. It was easily seen that the cards raised lots of discussion and, most importantly, created ideas for further development. Fourth category concerning the intelligent future face masks will be processed in the other Workshop. The results will be analyzed and later published in a scientific paper. Thank you Kaisa Grönman (LUT) and Natalia Vinitskaia (LUT) for an inspiring forenoon.
Next Workshop of BioProt
Next workshop of BioProt will be held in January of 2023 at Jyväskylä University (JYU).Topics of the Workshop will be regulation of biocides and analyses of the antiviral and antibacterial properties. More information will be given closer to the event.