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Caremelt® wins BIOPOLYMER Innovation Award 2023

The fully bio-based and biodegradable hotmelt Caremelt® has been awarded the prestigious BIOPOLYMER Innovation Award in Halle (Saale). This prize is awarded annually by the association POLYKUM e.V. - Fördergemeinschaft für Polymerentwicklung und Kunststofftechnik in Mitteldeutschland. The award ceremony took place on June 13, 2023 during the congress "BIOPOLYMER - Processing & Moulding" in the Georg-Friedrich-Händel-Halle and was broadcast worldwide via livestream.

While some of the coveted trophies in recent years went to Finland, Italy, Belgium or Brazil, this year for the first time the jury nominated only German applicants for the main prize of 2,000 euros. In addition to TITK, these were Green Elephant GmbH from Giessen (Hesse) and SoBiCo GmbH from Bad Sobernheim (Rhineland-Palatinate).

SoBiCo came in third place with its new bioplastic Plactid®, which was developed for future packaging materials. Green Elephant competed with CellScrew® - a novel cell culture bottle made entirely of biobased PLA. In it, tissue cells can be multiplied in new ways, for example for gene and cell therapies or for research into cosmetics and medicines. After a tough neck-and-neck race with the hotmelt from Thuringia, it was enough for Green Elephant in the end for second place. "For us, it's the outstanding research work. That's what it takes to deserve this award," said jury member Dr. Martin Bussmann at the award ceremony for the Caremelt® innovation from TITK.

The jury statement said:

"Hot-melt adhesives are found in a great many products today and have long since conquered the DIY market as well. Up to one fifth of all today's adhesives fall into this category! Nevertheless, no completely bio-based and biodegradable hotmelt adhesive has been available on the market until now. This is all the more remarkable because, for technical and economic reasons, adhesives can only very rarely be removed from products again. Thus, adhesives - for example due to product use and wear, improper disposal or other circumstances - not infrequently end up as microplastics in the environment.

So the researchers and developers at TITK have turned their attention to a problem whose solution is as overdue as it is technically challenging! The courage of the TITK team led by project manager Andreas Krypczyk to take on this challenge and the result impressed the jury in equal measure: Caremelt®, when released into the environment, becomes fully part of natural cycles again through microorganisms and natural degradation processes. Moreover, as a completely bio-based adhesive, it is CO2-neutral.

The properties of the adhesive and its application profile can be compared with those of established hotmelt adhesives, taking into account the somewhat lower thermal load capacity. The patent-pending composition of polylactic acid (PLA), polysuccinic acid (PBS), terpene and rosin resins, natural waxes and citric acid derivatives is suitable not only for short-lived products such as shopping bags, diapers or cardboard boxes. Adhesive bonds in shoes, textiles, wood, metal or furniture parts, and books can also be biodegradable in the future thanks to the new development from Thuringia."

Caremelt® had already generated a great deal of interest in the past two years. The hotmelt adhesive was featured in several media and TV reports. In 2021, it was awarded 2nd place in the Thuringia Environment Award, in 2022 it was nominated for the Thuringia Innovation Award and received a silver medal at the International Trade Fair "Ideas-Inventions-New Products" (iENA) in Nuremberg.

From June 14 to 16, 2023, Caremelt® will already be presented at the next event: the Green Tech Festival at the former Berlin Tegel Airport. Europe's largest sustainability festival presents ideas and innovations from all areas - food, mobility, energy and infrastructure. The goal is to inspire as many people as possible to live sustainably with green technologies and ways of thinking. At the invitation of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK), TITK will showcase the hotmelt adhesive there at booth N01 in the indoor hall, directly at the transition to the outdoor area.

Dr. Stefan Fischer (center), research associate at TITK, accepted the award in Halle on behalf of Caremelt® project manager Andreas Krypczyk. (Image rights: POLYKUM / Moritz Geyer)