Grinding in a different way

Category: Research & Development

The amount of plastic waste is increasing from year to year. Biodegradable packaging is therefore becoming increasingly important, and not only in the food industry. Yet there are already many sustainable packaging alternatives – such as bio-film made from macroalgae. Since this process is very time-consuming and expensive, Ludwig Schmidtchen, a doctoral student, has developed a cheaper and faster manufacturing process for this film. He received help from Tietjen.

Recyclable packaging made from (ground) seaweed

Algae film has many advantages over plastic film. No chemicals are needed to make the film, and it is biodegradable. The difficulty in processing macroalgae is that the process using casting is very time-consuming and therefore expensive. This problem has now been addressed by Ludwig Schmidtchen as part of his doctorate as an application engineer at Brabender GmbH in cooperation with the Technical University of Dresden.

To make processing easier and less expensive, the algae had to be ground. This is where Tietjen came into play. As a specialist for grinding solutions, we develop individual comminution solutions for various applications - from the production of pet food and fish feed to the pulping of biomass, wood and fibers.

Algae hanging to dry in the sun

The special features of algae grinding

To save time and costs, further processing must be done by extrusion. For this purpose, however, the dried macroalgae must be ground into very small particles. The rudimentary product properties of the so-called red algae, such as the rubbery texture, make impact comminution very difficult to begin with. - So it is a clear task for our Tietjen hammer mill. These have been designed for a wide variety of applications and also manage to grind such difficult recipes and products.

The manufacturing process of the raw material is divided into three steps:

1. the comminution of the pressed algae bales

2. fine grinding of the algae

3. the extrusion of the algae granules

Before impact crushing with our Tietjen hammer mill, the dried, pressed algae are coarsely shredded.

After some pre-tests, adjustments, regarding aspiration and parameters, could be determined to obtain the desired granulation. Subsequently, the macroalgae were finely ground to Ø 6 mm by using our Tietjen test mill. A total of 500 kg of algae was milled so that subsequent extrusion could take place.

For the final station in the production of algae film, extrusion, the algae granulate was then sent to Brabender GmbH, which processed the product into film.

For a sustainable world without plastic

The ultimate use of the resulting film has not yet been determined, but applications in the food and non-food sectors are conceivable. For example, it could soon become packaging for food in supermarkets or for children's toys.

The topics of sustainability and research & development are very close to Tietjen's heart. We are therefore pleased to support Ludwig Schmidtchen in his doctoral thesis on such an important topic and wish him every success with his doctorate.

  • Author:
    Karsten Frese, Tietjen Redaction

  • Images:
    Brabender GmbH

  • Tags:
    fine-grinding, Sustainability

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