The time has come: carbonauten polymers and Formcase have collaborated to create the first ready-to-use minus CO2 product. The high-tech charging case for tablets will be unveiled to the public for the first time at DIDACTA 2023 from 07.03 to 11.03 in Stuttgart. It is made of a very special material that stores CO2 from the atmosphere.
minus CO2, how does that work? The technical biocarbon innovation introduces renewable materials that store up to 3.3 tons of CO2 per ton of product, contributing to the defossilization of the plastics industry. These materials are obtained from biomass waste and make up 25% of the charging case. This equals a CO2 equivalent of 3 kg. The best part is that the carbon-filled granules, which can contain up to 50% biocarbon, are just as affordable as their fossil-based counterparts, making bio a regenerative, better, and cheap solution.
It was a long way from the idea of mixing biocarbon into plastics to the completion of the first marketable product:
Let’s just try it, could be amazing
In the summer of 2019, Torsten Becker, one of the two founders of carbonauten, has an idea. Despite not having deep expertise in plastics processing, the carbonauten team approaches a leading plastics institute in October of the same year to investigate the potential of mixing biocarbon into a plastic matrix.
The two materials are compounded for the first time in an experiment, resulting in the successful mixing of biocarbon with a recycled biopolymer. The mixture works surprisingly well, with biocarbon being mixed up to 30% of the total material. Test rods are injection molded from the finished material.
The first product is created
Impressed by the successful experiment, carbonauten continues their research and creates their first product. Using a different machine, a small plastic shell is injection-molded with excellent results. After making a few adjustments to the parameters, the team achieved the perfect processing of the material. To this day, the small plastic shell remains a symbol of achievement and occupies a place of honor in carbonauten’s conference room.
First industry partner & technical know-how
As a young company with a mission to save the world and a patent on the groundbreaking combination of biocarbon with different polymers, carbonauten had a lot of potential but limited knowledge of what to do next.
However, Denis Maier from the R&D department takes the lead in pushing research forward, attending seminars and conducting tests with various polymers. As he presents the idea at various events, there is significant interest from the industry. Towards the end of 2019, carbonauten engages in initial project discussions with Daimler.
The basics are in place, now it’s time for growth
The carbonauten polymers team has gained enough technical expertise in the polymer field by early 2020 to not only incorporate carbons into different plastics but also to enhance their properties through additives. Laboratory tests showed improved dimensional stability, reduced weight, and increased temperature and UV resistance. As an independent business unit, carbonauten polymers is now geared towards the future.
The team worked with various partners to produce fittings, industrial packaging, and even thermoformed trunk trays with Daimler. These applications align with carbonauten’s core concept of producing long-lasting products that circulate and are reused rather than discarded.
Ideas towards a hive-off & the chief technical officer joins the team
In late 2020, the realization dawns that the production of technical biocarbon and ready-to-use compounds are distinct processes requiring different expertise and serving different stakeholders. Hence, the idea of hiving off carbonauten polymers as an independent company surfaces. This spin-off offers investors in the plastics industry an opportunity to directly invest in the plastics section of carbonauten, making it easier to form strategic partnerships.
In the summer of 2021, Dr. Cristian Hedesiu joins as CTO, bringing with him a wealth of expertise. He has a PhD in polymer science and has previously worked for several years in R&D for leading international plastics companies. Dr. Hedesiu is a firm believer in the need to defossilization of the plastics industry and has been enthusiastic about the potential of engineered biocarbons from the outset.
Today – Shortly before the hive-off
After dedicating considerable time and resources, carbonauten polymers accomplishes its first major milestone: the completion of its first marketable product. The team has successfully developed a solution to nearly any challenge, demonstrating the immense potential of their products in a recent project with Volvo construction equipment.
The company’s products have grown beyond the team that created them, and carbonauten polymers is now poised for success as an independent business unit.
Where do we go from here?
carbonauten polymers has ordered their first own compounder from Thermofischer. It not only compounds, but also extrudes. This enables another enormous boost in speed for R&D. With the equipment, not only large-scale trials can be carried out, but also the first series products can be manufactured for customers who are already waiting in the wings. With its own sales department, technical assistants, production staff and strategic investors, carbonauten polymers GmbH will take off in 2023 – with people for whom “fuck CO2” is more than just a slogan.
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