Bioplasticizers and biopolymers from agricultural waste

Recruiting now!

Applicants with skills/experience in: organic/polymer chemistry, biobased materials, materials characterisation and biomass valorisation are welcome to apply

Academic Lead: Prof Kathryn Fairfull-Smith

Queensland University of Technology

There is a great current interest in sustainable chemistry, including the development of polymers and polymer additives from renewable bio-resources. Carbohydrates such as cellulose, obtained from agricultural waste, can be hydrolysed into smaller molecules that allow access to a range of renewable chemicals and materials. One such platform compound is 5-chloromethylfurfural (CMF), which has been repurposed into renewable monomers, fuels and specialty chemicals.

This project aims to prepare bio-based plasticizers from CMF and evaluate their impact on materials performance when incorporated into bioderived polymers such as lignin, alginate or chitosan. Recent developments have resulted in the replacement of synthetic plasticizers by biobased counterparts The effect of biobased plasticizer concentration, interaction, and compatibility on the polymer properties will be examined. Chemical methods to covalently incorporate the bioplasticizer within the biopolymer will also be explored.