With increased concern about mitigating climate change, there is a strong interest in low carbon impact renewable materials as alternative feedstock replacing carbon-intensive fossil fuel derived raw materials for producing chemicals and products to have lower environmental impacts in their product life cycle.
Meanwhile, the pressing global issues associated with rising plastics accumulations and toxic e-wastes are prompting the need to produce products from biodegradable renewable materials to lessen the negative environmental footprint associated with product’s end-of-life disposal. Low carbon renewable materials are an integral part of the solutions to these complex environmental challenges for enhancing global
Bio-based Chemicals and Resins
Research activities in this area include physical, chemical, biological, and thermal decomposition and transformation of biomolecules from renewable biomass into platform monomers, chemical intermediates, and polymer precursors; and synthesis of bio-based polymers, resins, and adhesives using bio-derived compounds replacing petroleum-derived and carbon-intensive counterparts. Developing chemical feedstocks from renewable resources is critical to achieving global sustainability.
Lightweight Bio-based Transportation Materials
One of the top priorities in automotive industry today is light weighting. Automakers are increasingly adopting lightweight materials for body, chassis, interior, power train and under-the-hood applications. The objective in reduction in overall vehicle weight is to improve fuel economy and also to meet the evolving demands of increasingly electrified vehicle platforms.
OEMs and suppliers are keen on exploring renewable materials, such as natural fibers, as part of their solution to take advantage of additional sustainability benefits associated with the low carbon renewable materials.
Green Bio-based Construction Materials
Building and construction sector generates a large impact on the environment. As part of sustainable building solution, the industry is increasingly utilizing low carbon renewable construction material to reduce its overall environmental impact as part of mitigation strategy for climate change. Tall wood buildings and lightweight cement reinforced with biofibres are some of the industry trends that are gaining momentum worldwide. Biobased materials not only can reduce embodied carbon and energy but also to provide better thermal condition with less energy consumption at operational stage of the buildings.
Biodegradable Packing Materials
As ecommerce and fast food delivery gaining popularity, there is a pressing global issue associated with the disposal of non-biodegradable packaging materials made from synthetic polymers. There is an urgent need to replace the packaging materials made from non-biodegradable synthetic polymers by biodegradable polymers such as starch, cellulose, chitosan, poly(lactic acid) (PLA), polycaprolactone (PCL), and polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), etc., or fully bio-degradable packaging materials made by blending biopolymers with biofibres.
Life Cycle Analysis of Novel Products from Renewable Materials
Mitigating complex climate change and environmental impact challenges require us to take a wholistic system’s approach of analyzing new technologies, production processes and materials. Novel products obtained from renewable materials need to be evaluated based on their life cycle impact substantiated by robust inventory analysis of the input and output associated with each life stage of the product.
Recent global trend in circular economy represents a paradigm shift from traditional linear manufacturing, use, and disposal model to cyclical model of nature that converts waste into resources, leading to the reduction, reuse and recycling of the elements. In a circular society, materials and products are also reused, repaired, recycled, and remanufactured after usage.
Bio-based Green Electronics: Organic, Optical, and Energy Devices; Dispalys; Sensors; and Wearables
Consumer electronics are a rapidly increasing source of waste. Cell phones, tablets and the like are typically made of non-renewable, non-biodegradable, partly environmentally toxic materials. Researchers are increasing looking for ways to use renewable materials to develop green electronics to help mitigate the environmental impact.
Research efforts are also underway to explore renewable biomaterials, such as lignin, cellulose, biocarbon, and wood, for applications in flexible displays, energy storage, smart sensors, and wearables to attain higher sustainability and better functional performance.