Current Advances in Biopolymer Processing and Characterization


Martin Koller (Editor)
University of Graz, Office of Research Management and Service, Institute of Chemistry, Graz, Austria

Series: Biomaterials – Properties, Production and Devices
BISAC: SCI010000

The book presents current R&D activities to unravel the physico-chemical properties of diverse “biopolymers”, and their processing towards functionalized, high-performance bio-products with defined applications. The importance of this research becomes obvious by considering the annual plastic production of about 330 Mt, the lion´s share thereof based on the conversion of fossil feedstocks that is highly recalcitrant against biodegradation. Alternative environmentally degradable plastics cover not even 5% of today´s plastic market. Such “biopolymers” encompass various macromolecules of biological origin with diverse monomeric composition, and manifold physico-chemical properties. This structural diversity makes them potential candidates to produce bulk materials, e.g., for packaging purposes, smart functionalized materials in special niches like the biomedical field. Consequently, we witness an increasing trend towards new natural polymers to replace well-established products like plastics. After decades of global R&D developments in this field, and numerous body blows on the way to the anticipated market breakthrough of biopolymers, it is generally recognized that the success of such new materials needs progress in both material performance and production prices.

The book Current Advances in Biopolymer Processing & Characterization is dedicated to the current state-of-the-art of production, modification, characterization, and processing of two major biopolymer groups:
Firstly, polysaccharides, nature´s most abundant raw materials, are represented by specialized contributions on biomedical applications of starch and its follow-up products. Polysaccharides were also studied for the examples of functionalized thermoplastic starch, molecular and hydrocolloidal characteristics of xanthan in aqueous environments, and by the design of functionalized xylan-based bio-materials.
Secondly, the second series of contributions encompasses diverse biopolyesters. Advanced methods to improve the properties of PLA, fine-tune PLA properties by triggering PLA´s crystallization rate during melt processing, and the strongly emerging field of 3D-printing of PLA, PCL, and microbial PHA are described. Finally, the authors familiarize the reader with the application of mixed microbial cultures to produce PHA heteropolyesters with different thermo-mechanical properties in dependence on cultivation strategy and the microbial species’ composition.

This compilation of new biomaterials with surprising functions and performance, based on these natural polymers will address scientists active in biopolymers production, functionalization, characterization, and processing towards “bio-technomers”. The book is also dedicated to undergraduate students of polymer chemistry and polymer processing, and to representatives of the polymer industry who are interested in developing innovative, sustainable and smart polymeric products. Activities motivated by reading this book shall boost the impatiently desired market penetration of biopolymers and their follow-up products. Such materials definitely display a socioeconomic impact by addressing prevailing ecological concerns such as depleting fossil resources, growing piles of plastic waste, and increasing global warming. The contributions to this book illustrate that “bio-inspired” remedies for prevalent ecological problems are already available, developed by experts in polymer sciences and engineering, or that these solutions are at least in the status of development. (Imprint: Nova)




Table of Contents


List of Contributors

Chapter 1. Polysaccharides: Structures and Materials for Biomedical Applications (pp. 1-14)
Rupert Kargl, Tamilselvan Mohan and Karin Stana Kleinschek

Chapter 2. Green Chemistry Functionalization of Thermoplastic Starch and Its Relevance for Industrial Applications (pp. 15-48)
Barbara Fahrngruber, Markus Schuster, Rupert Wimmer and Norbert Mundigler

Chapter 3. Xylans: Biopolymers for the Design of Highly Engineered Polysaccharide Derivatives with Promising Properties (pp. 49-76)
Lars Gabriel and Thomas Heinze

Chapter 4. Xanthan in Aqueous Media: Molecular and Hydrocolloidal Characteristics (pp. 77-92)
Peter Wintersteller, Arbresha Muriqi, Diellza Bajrami, Gjylije Hoti, and Anton Huber

Chapter 5. Polysaccharide-Based Polyelectrolyte Complexes for Biomedical Applications (pp. 93-120)
Andrea Morelli, Dario Puppi and Federica Chiellini

Chapter 6. 3D Processing of (Bio)Degradable Materials (pp. 121-168)
J. W³odarczyk, W. Sikorska, J. Rydz, B. Johnston, G. Jiang, I. Radecka and M. Kowalczuk

Chapter 7. Advances in Methods for Improving Polylactide Properties (pp. 169-204)
Miroslav Huskiæ and Andrej Kržan

Chapter 8. Crystallization Kinetics of Poly(Lactic Acid) during Melt Processing (pp. 205-222)
Hendrik Schäfer and Adriana Kovalcik

Chapter 9. PHA Copolymers from Microbial Mixed Cultures: Synthesis, Extraction and Related Properties (pp. 223-276)
Mauro Majone, Laura Chronopoulou, Laura Lorini, Andrea Martinelli, Cleofe Palocci, Simona Rossetti, Francesco Valentino and Marianna Villano

Index (pp. 277)

Additional Information

The book addresses the whole range of polymer science, and shall be useful in getting an idea where established polymeric materials can be replaced or even outperformed by bio-based alternatives. In addition, the book is especially dedicated to students of higher level, who are involved in the fields of polymer chemistry and polymer processing; we hope that this book is helpful and motivating for you! Further, we are convinced that the book attracts the attention of representatives of polymer industry. Do you want to get your feet on the ground of innovative, sustainable and smart polymeric products? This might pave the way for a broader implementation of biopolymers and their follow-up products on the industrial scale.


Additional information