The short-running of minerals such as oil and the increasing waste problem are the reasons for the fast growing interest in biopolymers. “Biopolymer” describes on the one hand polymers that are biodegradable and on the other hand plastics synthesized from renewable sources. Ideally, both of those independent properties are to be unified in the same material. However, such “ideal” biopolymers still suffer from poor properties and high prices, which extremely limit their applications and potential to replace “conventional” polymers.
The aim of the proposed project is the design and optimized manufacturing of biosynthesized and biodegradable polymers for widespread applications. The very promising poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) - PHBV - is addressed by reinforcing its properties using natural available fillers, such as clay (layered silicate). The resulting nanocomposites will be characterized in detail and new insight regarding their processing-structure-property relationship provided. The results will impact the production process of PHBV and yield optimized PHBV designs for various applications in packaging, agriculture or throw-away-products.
These investigations will allow the fellow to acquire excellent expertise in a pioneering research topic, which is of crucial importance for the worldwide efforts to combat the energy and waste problems. In combination with the complementary training, this IEF project will help the applicant to restart her research career, to obtain scientific maturity and to actively participate in shaping future research regarding nanocomposites of biopolymers, which is a rapidly emerging field. Consequently, the IEF perfectly consolidates the fellow’s long-term aim to reach an independent position at a university or research institution in Europe.
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