The use of bio-derived raw materials in technical applications has increased steadily over recent years above all due to environmental concerns and the situation on the crude oil markets. Since the start of this century, above all major Japanese electronics manufacturers report about the use of bio-derived raw materials in their products. The use of these materials was tested for various applications, beginning with the packaging of their products, through the casings for various electronic devices to complete products. Meanwhile in particular major producers of mobile phones and laptop computers offer products with casing casings made with bio-derived plastics and feature this prominently in their marketing.The focus is no on the bio-degradability but on the long-term assurance of the resource availability but on assuring the long-term availability of durable and reliable materials.
In the projects Bio Pro and Bio Fun the focus was on the bio-derived polyhydroxyalkanoates PHA or PHB, which are produced from glycerine, a by-product of the production of biodiesel from rape seed. In the course of the Bio Pro project a method was developed for the production of PHB. In the Bio Fun research project these biopolymersare modified by compounding, copolymerisation, strengthening,and by additives. In this way they can be adapted to the various demands placed on functional materials in electronics. In Fraunhofer IZM questions are addressed relating to electronic packaging (metallisation, bonding technology) and the consideration of environmental and sustainability characteristics incomparison to established plastics. The results of the eco-auditing show that bio-derived plastics are not necessarily more environmentally compatible, but they offer potential for reducing the environmental impact of electronics.