STTR Phase I: Designing and Engineering Thermoplastic Starch BioFoam Materials for Protective Packaging Applications

Period of Performance: 01/01/2008 - 12/31/2008


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

KTM Industries
5597 West Grand River
Lansing, MI 48906
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Michigan State University
Office of Sponsored Programs
East Lansing, MI 48824
Institution POC


Intellectual Merit: KTM Industries in cooperation with Michigan State University plans to design and engineer biodegradable starch based biofoam materials for the protective packaging market. These new, biobased foam materials are expected to displace petro-based polyethylene, polystyrene, and polyurethane materials used currently in these applications. KTM Industries, working with National Starch, Specialized Packaging Group LP, and its customers, namely Toyota, Volvo, have test marketed and commercialized several starch foam materials for limited applications. However, its extreme moisture sensitivity, poor surface properties, and strength have precluded its use in broader applications. KTM/MSU with its industrial collaborators will design, manufacture and test new chemically modified plastic starch biofoams with superior moisture resistance, strength, surface uniformity, and ease of fabrication than is currently achieved. This has the major benefit for gaining market acceptance of bio-based foam cushioning technology across a wider range of applications. Broader Impact: KTM's Green Cell product is the only commercially available bio-foam in North America. It is completely biodegradable, greenhouse gas neutral, and competes well in selected polyethylene packaging applications. Market feedback, however, has shown that broader acceptance of starch biofoams requires KTM to overcome current moisture sensitivity, brittleness, strength, and surface property issues as well as manufacturability challenges. By developing a thermoplastic starch biofoam that has the enhanced moisture