Nanobiocomposites made from natural bioactive substances and their use for the replacement of petroleum products
Realization period:01.03. 2023 – 28.02. 2026
Leader at TUL:prof. Dr. Ing. Miroslav Černík, CSc.
Petroleum-based products have long been regarded as non-environmental and, more recently, uneconomic. Therefore, products based on natural (renewable) resources are being sought to replace standard petroleum products. The aim is to reduce the environmental burden associated with the extraction, processing and transport of oil, which in itself has a significant environmental footprint. In addition, these products are non-biodegradable and their disposal or inadvertent entry into ecosystems causes long-term problems when their use ceases. The project aims to develop nanobiocomposites based on natural substances with targeted properties to replace these petroleum products (plastics) with natural, renewable and biodegradable materials, while being economically acceptable. These composites are based on nanofibers and self-supporting films prepared from plant polysaccharides modified with bioactive natural substances such as silk sericin or cyclodextrins. In the case of polysaccharides, bio-residues of plant gums (class II and III, which are not used in the food industry) will be used, namely kondagogu gum (KG), karaya gum (GK) or gum Arabic (GA). Sericin (Se) is a protein-rich and biodegradable waste from industrial silk processing industries, and cyclodextrins are cyclic oligosaccharides prepared, for example, from starch. These natural substances can form composites that can be used to produce electrospun fibres/films for use as food packaging, bags and pouches, wound dressings and hygiene products such as wipes. The Technical University of Liberec (TUL) has long been involved in the development of electrospinning devices and nanofibre technology. For this project, the Institute for Nanomaterials, Advanced Technologies and Innovation (CXI TUL) teamed up with Cornell University from the USA (Department of Human Centered Design, College of Human Ecology). Prof. Dr. Uyar's group has expertise in polymer chemistry and physics and characterization, preparation of polymers for applications in different environments (temperature, impact, stress), conducting polymers, biodegradable polymers, thermoplastics and biopolymers for medical applications (drug delivery systems) and food industry.