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Posted: August 23, 2008

Partnership accelerates research into new-generation plastics

(Nanowerk News) A sustainable future for the plastics industry is a step closer to reality, thanks to a new agreement between The University of Queensland and Queen's University Belfast.
The partnership, between UQ's School of Engineering and QUB's School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is based around collaborative research on polymers and strengthens existing bonds between the two schools.
Ranging from car parts to adhesives, polymers are long, chain-like molecules that make up almost 98 percent of the plastic products and packaging we encounter daily.
The new international agreement will accelerate research into new-generation plastics that are biodegradable, and environmentally friendly manufacturing techniques.
Director of the Centre for High Performance Polymers in the School of Engineering, Associate Professor Peter Halley, said polymer research was vital in developing a sustainable future for the plastics industry.
“The partnership connects leading researchers and research laboratories in nanocomposites, biopolymers and polymer processing, and allows us to share equipment and expertise,” Dr Halley said.
Researchers from both universities have been instrumental in helping local and international companies design and develop new machinery and products using advanced polymers.
Nanocomposites Group Leader Dr Darren Martin said the complementary technologies developed as part of the partnership were likely to generate new intellectual property and start-up companies in packaging, health and other areas.
“There are a number of collaborative research projects underway, such as a joint project on nanostructured drug delivery materials,” Dr Martin said.
“UQ PhD graduate Dr Kayleen Campbell worked on these materials at QUB. Now back at UQ, we are assessing the important biological interactions of these nanomaterials.”
The two universities are internationally recognised in novel nanomaterials design, biomaterials, polymer rheology, polymer processing and process modelling.
UQ researchers involved include Dr Halley, Dr Darren Martin, Associate Professor Rowan Truss, Dr Timothy Nicholson and Professor Justin Cooper-White.
Source: University of Queensland