January 18, 2016

A renewable and biodegradable alternative to Styrofoam

This prototype bicycle helmet is made entirely from forest products — particularly
the foam shock absorbing material, which was developed at KTH. (Photo: Cellutech)

(January 18, 2016)  Maybe soon we can say goodbye to polystyrene, the petroleum-based material that is used to make Styrofoam. In what looks like an ordinary bicycle helmet, Swedish designers have replaced Styrofoam with a new shock-absorbing material made with renewable and biodegradable wood-based material.

Researcher Lars Wågberg, a professor in Fibre Technology at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, says the wood-based foam material offers comparable properties to Styrofoam.

"But even better, it is from a totally renewable resource — something that we can produce from the forest," Wågberg says.

That's a big plus for a country where forests are planted and harvested continuously, much like any other cash crop.

Trademarked under the name, Cellufoam, the material was developed by Wågberg together with Lennart Bergström, professor in Material Chemistry at Stockholm University, and Nicholas Tchang Cervin, a former PhD student at KTH, in the Wallenberg Wood Science Center (WWSC).

The helmet was produced by Cellutech, a Stockholm startup that specializes in cutting edge materials made from wood, in conjunction with the Swedish Forest Industries Federation´s Ekoportal2035.

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