Materials and technologies – April 2024

30 April 2024

Alternative resources for polymer production
Researchers at McMaster University and Copenhagen’s Danish Technical University have uncovered the mechanisms behind a promising electrochemical process that captures carbon dioxide from industrial emissions and transforms it into fuel and plastics that can be used for packaging applications. The study (2.36 MB) is published in Nature Communications. Washington University scientists have explored lignin's potential by breaking it down into renewable chemicals resembling petroleum-derived compounds. Collaborating with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, they studied lignin's interaction with catalysts, aiming to efficiently produce valuable chemicals that could be used for plastics in packaging. The study (abstract) is published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.
Hokkaido University researchers have developed a convenient and versatile method to make a variety of polymers from chemicals derived from cellulose obtained from plant waste. These polymers can be applied in packaging. The study (abstract) is published in ACS Macro Letters.

PFAS – Safe alternatives
In a recent article, researchers at WUR explain that developing safe alternatives for PFAS is challenging due to the unique properties and wide variety of these chemicals. Current substitutes still have limited applicability and face scalability issues. Therefore, WUR researchers have set up a dossier that focuses on safe alternatives for PFAS as well as sustainable ways of cleaning up existing PFAS pollution.

Microplastics – Inhibiting release and promoting degradation
A research team led by experts from the University of Portsmouth and Flanders Marine Institute has found that PLA releases nine times fewer microplastics than conventional plastic when exposed to sunlight and seawater. The study (3.41 MB) is published in Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety. New research from UC San Diego and Algenesis unveils plant-based polymers that biodegrade, even at the microplastic level, in under seven months. The polymers, intended as replacements for traditional plastics, were tested in compost and matched the biodegradability of cellulose. The study (1.64 MB) is published in Nature Scientific Reports.

Innovation projects on packaging materials
The FUSTARISE Project, led by AIMPLAS, seeks sustainable solutions for lignocellulosic waste management. Techniques are employed to repurpose waste into bio-based polymers for high-value applications. The project is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). LEPAMAP-PRODIS (UdG) and NOEL are collaborating on sustainable food packaging. With an industrial doctorate, they aim to reduce plastic usage by 75% or eliminate it entirely through advanced coatings.

NVC Chair Packaging Design and Management – research
On 28 March 2024, Nathan van Emous held a presentation entitled ‘The feasibility of renewable material application in the packaging portfolio of FrieslandCampina’ as part of his master assignment at University of Twente. Chairman of the assessment committee was prof. Roland ten Klooster who holds the NVC Chair Packaging Design and Management.

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