Engineering renewable cellulosic thermoplastics
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Biopolymers are engineered physically, chemically, genetically or biochemically (i.e. via biotechnological fermentation process) with the purpose to meet specific industry requirements of a wide range of applications. Various technological strategies are reported to create biodegradable plastics with unique physicochemical properties and a predetermined service life. The combination of polymeric material in composites is considered to optimize their mechanical behavior and reliability. Extrusion, a thermomechanical process, is the most widely used technology for producing thermoplastic starch. However, the ease of cellulose accessibility for thermal processing is of increasing economic importance but is complicated by the presence of very strong intermolecular hydrogen bonds in cellulose. Chemical modification is still the common way to get cellulosic thermoplastic products from renewable resources. Therefore, STEP ITN research activities focus on understanding the fundamental chemistry governing polysaccharide transformation and shaping, to utilize this knowledge to introduce thermoplasticity and new functionalities in polymers such as unmodified cellulose.
KeywordsCellulose Thermoplastic starch Biodegradable plastics
The author acknowledges the financial help of the European Commission (Grant No. PITN-GA-2008-214015) and support from the Marie Curie Fellowship Association (www.mcfa.eu).
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