VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed methods for processing the most rapidly renewable surface layer of peat, instead of using it for energy production. According to VTT, bio-based composite materials containing peat fibre, for example in the manufacture of consumer products and construction materials, can replace the use of oil-based raw materials. VTT currently has three patent applications pending related to peat-containing biocomposites.
The advantages of products containing peat fibre are their bio base, low cost, water resistance, impact strength, excellent fire endurance characteristics and biodegradability. Materials containing peat fibre are suitable for processing with normal plastic processing methods, including compounding, extrusion and injection moulding. Currently no company in Finland is producing or exploiting these kinds of peat composite materials.
Multiple uses for peat fibre
Material solutions containing peat fibre can be used in construction (boards, moulding, profiles, plate structures), product applications in horticulture and agriculture and forestry (seedling guards, planters, peat-coloured wall structures, plant supports), consumer products (golf tees, ornaments), biodegradable packaging, earth-moving (erosion protectors, biodegradable support structures) and funerary products.
Through its various projects, VTT has developed materials containing thermoplastic and panel-form peat fibre, as well as fibre-suitable preprocessing methods. Milled peat can be used as peat fibre because it contains several peat fractions. The amount of raw material necessary for composite products would be a fraction of current peat production, which supports its use in ecological products. Composite production is also an alternative to peat burning.