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Composition of Agave Fiber and Recycled Plastic for Building Materials

The emerging company PLASTINOVA intertwined the science of chemical engineering and technology to recycle all kinds of useless plastics and tequila agave bagasse similar to wood, but with greater resistance used as formwork in the construction industry or in the manufacture of benches, tables and chairs.

Generally the falsework used to build roofs, arches or any structure is made of wood or aluminum. However, the offer of the young entrepreneurs in Jalisco, westcoast state of Mexico, aims to achieve a medium point between both materials in terms of physical properties while reducing the cost, as well as recycling organic and inorganic waste.

The composition of the tabloid goes from 10 to 35 percentof agave fiber, completed with recycled plastic, as the latter is the matrix of this building material, said Alberto Medina-Mora Urquiza one of four partners of PLASTINOVA, together with Eloy Aquino Herrán, Milton Vázquez Lepe and Ignacio Reyes González.

PLASTINOVA lasted a year as a project, and in recent months managed to establish itself as a functioning company producing composite materials from recycled plastic and agave bagasse, which after a series of treatments obtains the necessary fiber to make the formwork tabloids.

Although PLASTINOVA was stablished in an area where tequila is produced, is very difficult to obtain agave bagasse because companies use it as fuel for boilers. The entrepreneurs, however, reached an agreement with two tequila companies to harness the waste plant.

To process one hundred kilograms of agave the machinery requires about 36 hours. And one more day to transform the fiber in a ton of pellets or beads of recycled plastic, with which the tabloids are manufactured, which measure 1.20 meters by one meter and are 10 centimeters thick.

The manufacture of the tabloids requires a three-part process. First, with the help of a physical process the alcohol, sugar, bone and shell is removed from the agave bagasse, leaving only the fiber for cleaning. After that it is dried, ground and pulverized, to obtain a flour-like powder.

During this process a compatibilizing agent is added to the fiber, which is a special substance that serves to alter the chemical composition of the waste, which makes it more resistant and compatible with various types of plastics, such propylene used in spoons or the high density polyethylene used in milk gallons, Medina-Mora explained.

Among the future plans of the company is to replace agave fibers with ones from coconut, since according to their laboratory tests are sturdier and have more suitable physical properties for use in building. Although for this they require further participation in entrepreneurial competitions as they did last year in the Cleantech Challenge or become widely known to attract investors to support them in order to increase the capacity of the machinery.

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