The VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland is developing methods to develop bio-based composite materials containing peat fibre, for the manufacture of consumer products and construction materials.
The advantages of products containing peat fibre are their bio origins, low-cost, water resistance, impact strength, excellent fire endurance characteristics and biodegradability.
Through its various projects VTT has developed materials containing thermoplastic and panel-form peat fibre, as well as fibre-suitable preprocessing methods. Milled peat can be used as peat fibre because it contains several peat fractions and preferably long fibres, allowing it to function both as filling material and as reinforcing material in composite structures.
The amount of raw material necessary for composite products would equate to a fraction of current peat production, which is a factor in support of its use in ecological products. Composite production is also an alternative to peat burning, and would preserve jobs in the peat industry.
Materials containing peat fibre are suitable for normal plastic processing methods, using compounding, extrusion and injection moulding. Currently no company in Finland is producing or exploiting these kinds of peat composite materials.
Material solutions containing peat fibre can be used in construction (boards, moulding, profiles, plate structures), product applications in horticulture and in agriculture and forestry (seedling guards, planters, peat-coloured wall structures, plant supports), consumer products (golf tees, ornaments), biodegradable packaging, earth-moving (erosion protectors, biodegradable support structures) and funerary products.
VTT currently has three patent applications pending related to peat containing biocomposites with the development work being funded partly by the TULI project of the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation Tekes.