19 December 2018
First doctorate at AMIBM

Recipe book for bioplastic from sugar beet

How do you cook a sugar beet to obtain bioplastics? Ola Wróblewska answered this question in her dissertation, a sort of 'recipe book' for chemists with whom she obtained her doctorate at the University of Maastricht at the end of November (under scientific guidance of Dr. Katrien Bernaerts in the prof. De Wildeman group). She is thus the first doctorate at the Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials.

Results

Wróblewska’s research yielded polymers that are biobased for 60% to 100% and have comparable properties as high-end fossil polyamides. Depending on the composition, the biopolymers were highly transparent or semicrystalline and dimensionally stable, also at higher temperatures.

This seems ideal for applications where transparency is required and there are large fluctuations in temperature, such as in water kettles or lampshades. Project partner Astron was looking for possibilities to make radio telescope covers that can be used in Africa, where temperature differences can be dozens of degrees during the day and at night. ‘Unfortunately, these polyamides are not suitable for this because they affect radio waves. Additives can also influence these properties, but further research is needed for the application partners.‘

Since October this year, Ola Wróblewska has been working in the Polymer Chemistry Research group (PCR) of Professor Filip Du Prez in Ghent, which focuses, among other things, on the development of vitrimers; durable plastics that have a high mechanical and thermal resistance, are chemically stable and can easily be reprocessed, repaired or recycled.

By: Pierre Gielen (Agro & Chemistry)