University of Göttingen: Toys and furniture from popcorn

Forest scientists at the University of Göttingen have long been researching sustainable and efficient processes to make products from popcorn granulate. There are many uses for these products: from packaging to insulating panels for building insulation. Some prototypes of these innovative products will be on display at Forum Wissen, the knowledge museum of the University of Göttingen, which opens at the beginning of June this year. Now the University has managed to get a new licence partner for a completely different area: GreenTec GmbH, part of the Loick Group, plans to use this technology in the future to manufacture toys, furniture, sports and fitness equipment, and children’s car seats and headrests.



Loick has been producing sustainable toys as part of the PlayMais® brand for more than 20 years. This natural craft toy can be shaped, pressed, cut and much more. PlayMais® is made from corn using a technique known as high-pressure foaming, and is 100 percent biodegradable. The licence from the University of Göttingen will enable the company to expand its toy range in the future to include larger compression-molded popcorn-based items for arts and crafts.



In fact, completely new directions are planned for the future: Loick would like to produce items for automobile interiors (child car seats and headrests), sports and fitness equipment, and furniture (table-tops, seating) all using popcorn. To do this, the new material will be produced and offered as sheet material or as three-dimensional molded parts



“This new process, which is based on techniques used in the plastics industry, can now be used as a cost-effective way to produce new sustainable children’s toys or sports and fitness equipment, as well as furniture on an industrial scale,” explains Professor Alireza Kharazipour, Head of the Research Group Chemistry & Process Engineering of Composite at Göttingen University. “For the furniture sector especially, this can ensure that alternative natural materials beyond plastic, and even beyond chipboard and fibreboard, are no longer just niche products.”



Hubert Loick, Managing Director of the licence partner Loick Green Tec GmbH, adds: “We are delighted to be working with the University of Göttingen to launch new products in the play and leisure sector and in innovative furniture construction with these newly developed popcorn-molding processes.”



The licence agreement between the University and Loick was brokered by MBM ScienceBridge, a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Göttingen. The patent exploitation agency acts on behalf of a total of nine universities and scientific institutions in Lower Saxony. The agency scrutinises scientific inventions for opportunities for patents and for their economic potential. It then takes care of worldwide marketing and negotiates, supervises and monitors licensing agreements. Their current portfolio includes projects from the fields of biomedicine, medical technology, measuring technology, chemistry, physics, forestry, and agricultural sciences.

University of Göttingen