Day 3 :
National institute of chemistry, Slovenia
Time : 10:00-10:30
Matjaž Kunaver has done his MSc from the University of Leeds UK in 1991 and has received his PhD degree in 1998 at the University of Leeds, UK. He is a Senior Scientist Researcher at the National Institute of Chemistry, Laboratory for Polymer Chemistry and Technology, Ljubljana, Slovenia and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Ljubljana and Polymer Technology College. His main fields of research are the utilization of biomass as a feedstock for polymer synthesis and production of nanocellulose. He has published more than 50 original scientific papers and 6 patents.
Cellulose containing Biomass represents an immense and renewable source for the production of bio-fuels and valuable chemicals. A little amount of this is used in industry and the remaining is leftover in huge quantities. Much effort has been devoted to converting these types of biomass into useful industrial and commercially viable products. In recent years, some effective processes have been found, such as thermochemical conversion producing several new products from these renewable resources. An overview of such applications and methods will be presented in this contribution. One of possibilities of converting biomass is the liquefactioni]. During liquefaction reaction, lignocellulosic components are depolymerised to low molecular mass compounds with high reactivity, high hydroxyl group content and can be used in many useful applications. A high energy ultrasound or microwaves can be used as an energy source to speed up the liquefaction process. The liquefied biomass was used as a feedstock in the synthesis of polyesters, polyurethane foams and adhesives. The same liquefaction process was used for the isolation of the nanocrystalline cellulose from biomass. The method is a novelty and a
model procedure for NCC isolation from different natural cellulosic sources with high yields and with high crystallinity index[i].
The process of preparing NCC from different natural sources uses glycols as the main reactant and an acid catalyst in low concentration (only 3%). Here, during the one step reaction, lignin, hemicelluloses and the more disordered components of the cellulosic fibers are liquefied, only the crystalline cellulose remaining as a solid residue.
The liquefaction reaction, using glycols and mild acid catalysis, was optimized and applied to four model materials, namely cotton linters, spruce wood, eucalyptus wood and Chinese switch grass. The % recovery of the nanocrystalline cellulose, the crystallinity index of the nanocrystalline cellulose and the average crystal dimensions are presented in the Table 1. The main benefit of the process arises from the ability to prepare stable NCC suspensions in an organic medium at 10 times greater loadings than can be achieved in aqueous suspensions. The liquid residues contain significant quantities of levulinic acid and different sugars that were derived from cellulose and hemicelluloses.
University of Applied Sciences FH Technikum Wien, Austria
Time : 10:30-11:00
Dr. Maximilian Lackner earned his PhD in 2003 and his habilitation in 2009 from Vienna University of Technology. He has held several senior leadership positions in the polymer industry in Austria and China. Dr. Lackner has founded 5 companies, amongst them one for antimicrobial polymers and one in the area of bioplastics, Lackner Ventures & Consulting GmbH. The company collaborates with JinHui Zhaolong, one of the largest PBAT manufacturers. The research interests of Dr. Lackner include PHA and PBAT for PP and PE replacement, respectively. Lackner Ventures & Consulting GmbH runs a research project to produce PHB from CO2 and sunlight using cyanobacteria. Dr. Lackner has authored more than 100 scientific articles, a textbook and has edited several reference works, e.g. Springer’s “Handbook of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation” (2nd edition). He teaches materials science at the University of Applied Sciences FH Technikum Wien.
The increasing effect of non-degradable plastic wastes is a growing concern. Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) is a storage compound and the raw material for biodegradable plastics with properties comparable to PP. PHB can be completely mineralized into water and carbon dioxide by naturally occurring microorganisms. It is also a biocompatible material and is being studied for its application in biomedical and biopharmaceutical field as biodegradable drug delivery system as it is compatible with mammalian blood and tissue. Currently, PHAs are solely synthesized by heterotrophic bacteria using sugar fermentation. The relatively high costs of raw materials and continuous oxygen supply for the processing make PHAs expensive in comparison to other petroleum-derived plastics. Methodology and theory: The alternative is to use certain oxygenic cyanobacteria as cell factory. Cyanobacteria can store PHB under nutrient (P, N) limitation from renewable and sustainable resources sunlight and CO2 and due to their minimal nutrient requirement are the most promising host system for PHB production. However the growth rate and the PHB yield stay low. There exists no general method to increase PHB yield in cyanobacteria. This work aims at making cyanobacteria competitive by optimization of growth conditions and by strain selection. Findings: We screen for wild type strains which can naturally accumulate PHB. During our systematic screening we have discovered a cyanobacterium sp. strain which naturally accumulates a high PHB content under N and P limitations in comparison to other existing strains. The improvement of the strain is possible using process engineering and natural mutations. Significance: Our project can develop an economically superior bioprocess to enhance biomass growth and PHB productivity and prove feasibility to use CO2 for production of biodegradable plastics.
Networking & Refreshment Break 11:00-11:20 @ Foyer