New tiles based on biopolymer composites

image Even tiles can be based on renewable raw materials. Fraunhofer researchers are exhibiting how renewable, biostable raw materials can be used in architecture, interior design and the packaging industry at this year’s International Green Week in Berlin from January 18 to 27.

They consist of a mixture of linseed oil epoxy, various natural fibers and diatomaceous earth, a material that is procured from fossilized diatoms. New bio-based tile systems, like the ones designed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Halle (Germany), are environmentally friendly, lighter-weight and – depending on their manufacturing and material properties – more resource- and energy-efficient than conventional ceramic materials. “The composite is not hard as glass and brittle like conventional epoxy, but flexible and more pliable instead. This makes it easier to work with the tiles,” says Andreas Krombholz, scientist in the natural composites division at IWM. The new composites also put a completely new spin on architectural perspectives. In the molding process, they can be shaped on an entirely customized basis, and shaped into squares, triangles or circles, for example. Even patterns and colors can be tailor-made.

By adding fluorescent pigments to the blend, they are transformed into light tiles. This means they can be used both outdoors and indoors, serving as illuminated guideposts on floors and walls. The same bio-tiles can also be installed in kitchens and bathrooms and can serve as indoor floor coverings.

Advertisements