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Sustainable Bioplastics from Renewable Source

The majority of plastics used today are prepared from petrochemical sources, but the use of renewable feedstocks (such as oils and fats, starches and cellulose) to prepare bioplastics is growing. Most renewable feedstocks require some chemical manipulation in order for them to be useful in making plastics, however, this chemistry must be green and non-polluting. In addition, the use of these feedstocks to make materials should not compete with their use as food.
Polyurethanes are important plastics and are used to make a range of materials including rigid and flexible foams (for insulation and seating), high performance adhesives, coatings, sealants, fibres, and a plethora of other products. Using the formation of polyurethanes and other novel polymers as demonstrators, the talk focussed on how it is possible to prepare plastics from waste fats and oils, novel non-food plant oils and marine biomass (such as algae). In particular the talk illustrated how the strength, flexibility and thermal stability of the plastics compare to those prepared from conventional oils.

Dr Andrew Clark

Associate Professor of Organic Chemistry, University of Warwick

Dr. Andrew Clark obtained a first class BSc. degree (Hons) in Chemistry from King’s College, London, where he also undertook studies towards a PhD in organic synthetic methodology. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University, New York (1990, Prof G. Stork) and the University of Nottingham (1992, Prof. G. Pattenden) before being appointed to a lecturer in Synthetic Chemistry at the University of Warwick in 1993. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2001. He was the recipient of the 1997 SCI prize for promising researcher under the age of 30 awarded at the House of Commons; other awards include the Novartis ACE award, SCI-UK postgraduate award, and Danielli Award.

He is internationally recognised for work in free radical chemistry and synthetic chemistry, in particular the development of copper mediated atom transfer radical cyclisations, radical-polar crossover reactions and cascade processes for application in natural product or drug synthesis. He is also interested in the rotational dynamics of enamides and their exploitation in asymmetric synthesis.

In recent years he has developed chemistry to manipulate renewable chemicals or waste streams to make feedstocks that are suitable for polymer synthesis. He has focussed on feedstocks prepared from vegetable oils, algae oils, flavanoids, glycerol derivatives and aromatic molecules derived from the degradation of lignin. From these feedstocks he has prepared a range of cross-linked thermoset polyurethanes as well as elastomeric polyethers, polyurethanes, polyamides, polyesters, polytriazoles and polyisoxazoles. He has designed novel polymethacrylates and polystyrene derivatives from renewable feedstocks and extended the chemistry to the synthesis of natural composites. He is currently exploring the use of renewable feedstocks to the surface coating and adhesive industries, primarily in the paint, non-stick and corrosion resistance coatings sector.