Project 5: Development Wood Plastic Composite Production Technologies

Project Coordination:

Faculty: Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences

Project Leader: Prof Habauka Kwaambwa
Project Collaborators: Prof Pio Lumaga


Strategic Partners:

o NamGreenWood
NamGreenWood (NGW) is the sole WPC manufacturer in Namibia using both imported wood and plastic materials as well as local. They are thus a strategic partner in this project.


o Kleen Tek Waste Management
Kleen Tek Waste Management (KTWM) is a professional waste removal and recycling company in Windhoek. As a leading plastics collection and recycling company, they are a strategic partner in this project. 


o Styrotex


The specific deliverables are:

This project stretches over a period of 2.5 years.

(1) To improve and/or develop 2x production methods for converting waste wood and plastics into forms suitable for processing into composites,

(2) To develop 1x different WPC/NFC product or technology, and

(3) To publish an assessment report with the research results and the economic viability of WPC/NFC production from Namibian bush.

Wood-plastic composites (WPCs) and natural fibre composites (NFC) have recently emerged as in important family of engineering materials both for industrial sectors and academics due to their favourable properties. These include low density, low cost, biodegradability, renewability and recyclability as well as desirable mechanical properties. Two processing technologies are normally used to prepare wood–plastic composites, namely air laying and melt-blending. The goal of the research will be to develop the technology to convert wood biomass (e.g. sawdust and wood shavings) and plastics as thermoplastic matrix (recycled polyethylene or polypropylene) into durable products that are recyclable and environmentally friendly. Melt-blending technology will be used for the processing. The technology is inherently a low cost, high production-rate process in wood biomass mixed with molten. These blends can then be formed into products using conventional techniques such as extrusion and injection moulding. WPCs combine qualities uniquely suited to accommodating both consumer and producer preferences in the current market. They are a sustainable solution that makes use of organic material with virgin, recycled or renewable plastics. They can be customised at low cost and without the need for investment in new production equipment. The result is a cost-competitive product that offers a lighter environmental footprint, unique aesthetic appeal and superior performance. The focus of this project will be on finding a substitute through WPC/NFC for the imported construction timber. Minimum engineering forces, including co-extrusion of fibres to increase bending strength are for consideration.