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Posted: Jan 11, 2013
Merging nanotechnology with renewable resources for novel multifunctional materials
(Nanowerk News) EU-funded scientists are bringing two of the most important fields of research together to develop novel multifunctional materials.
The EU is committed to transitioning to a sustainable economy based on renewable resources. At the same time, nanotechnology is exploiting the unique properties of materials on the scale of atoms and molecules to create multifunctional systems and devices.
European scientists are merging renewable resources with nanotechnology with EU funding of the 'Surface functionalisation of cellulose matrices using cellulose embedded nanoparticles' (Surfuncell) project. Cellulose is a polysaccharide, a long-chain sugar that is the main constituent of plant cell walls. Investigators are creating new composite materials (consisting of more than one individual material) composed of nano-scaled polysaccharide layers with embedded nanoparticles. The new class of high-value bio-based materials with tailored functions will be applicable to separation technology, medical devices, sensors and electronic systems.
Surfuncell is focused on modifying the surface of cellulose-based materials with polysaccharide derivatives and nanoparticles. Aside from using renewable materials, the project employs surface modification rather than the conventional practice of using nanoparticles as fillers in a bulk matrix. Scientists are creating demonstrators in the fields of pulp and paper, cellulosic yarns, cellulose films and filter membranes.
Scientists have created numerous nanoparticles and cellulose derivatives that are the source of new materials being produced in pilot tests. Among these are antimicrobial fibres for textiles and separation membranes with reduced clogging behaviour.
The subsequent project phase will focus on implementing pilot plant production of cellophane foils with enhanced barrier properties and of ultraviolet (UV)-protected paper surfaces. Surfuncell is merging nanotechnology and the use of renewable resources to develop novel multifunctional products in a sustainable way.