Our first-generation biobased technology

When we started working on bio-based & biodegradable coatings a few years ago, we decided to investigate raw materials that possessed those properties inherently. In a coating’s formula, the main ingredient concerned with those topics is the binder. The binder is a key ingredient because it is responsible for the stickiness on greenhouse, grass, and roof surfaces and it defines the product's durability (resistance to external factors like UV, condensation, rain, etc.). 
Binders are polymer molecules and can be synthetic (derived from petroleum) or from natural origin (derived from renewable sources). Thus, to replace our current binders we looked at all promising biopolymers such as cellulose, starch, chitosan, PLA, PHA, PVOH, etc. One candidate  stood out from the list and that was the starch, for the following reasons;

1. Availability

Starch is a common food ingredient that can be found in many cereals (corn, potato, rice, tapioca) and cultures all around the world. As Lumiforte, we aim to produce our coatings closest to the market to reduce our carbon footprint. Starch is a suitable option to help us achieve this goal. We will have local production of cereals transformed into a useful binder in our coatings. Last, starch can also be sourced from waste or other industry co-products (like food or paper).

2. Cost

The availability of raw materials for producing starch is high, resulting in reasonable prices compared to other biobased alternatives. This aspect is crucial for us at Lumiforte, as we strive to offer sustainable solutions to our customers at competitive prices. We believe that such an approach will facilitate a swift transition within our industry toward more sustainable alternatives.

3. Natural impact

Starch is fully biobased and biodegradable by international standards. The biodegradability of starch exceeds 80% within 28 days when exposed to water at ambient temperature.. Moreover, while being degraded starch feeds nature. Using a biodegradable polymer avoids the risk of releasing microplastics into the environment.  

The technical challenge:
However, using starch as a binder in a coating formulation is not obvious, especially when an important property is wear resistance. E.g. we want to guarantee the protection of crops inside greenhouses for 4-6 months. Thus, to improve the product's durability, and to meet customer’s requirements, we have modified the starch polymer. These modifications enhance the water resistance of starch without damaging its biodegradability.

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