Biopolymers and Biocomposites
Our research focusses on various compostable/biodegradable, natural, and biobased polymers for sustainability, environmental protection, people’s better life and health. We are interested in developing ‘green’ materials from renewable resources for greater resource efficiency and reduction in wastes and carbon footprints. Our primary focus has been on natural biopolymers including polysaccharides and proteins, which are widely abundant, renewable, biodegradable, biocompatible, inherently functional, and chemically versatile. Three pillars of our research are: a) fundamental materials science; b) advanced polymer engineering; and c) smart materials design. We investigate the mechanisms behind the relationship among processing, structure and properties/functionality of biopolymers and biocomposites, leading to competitive and functional materials.
We have fully resourced research equipment and strong expertise in polymers and composites to carry out research and collaborative activities in the areas of e.g.:
- Bioplastics and biocomposites
- Renewable and biodegradable nanomaterials
- Functional polymer materials (pH-responsiveness, controlled release, electroconductive, pollutant absorption)
- Sustainable and compostable/biodegradable packaging and coating
- Environmentally friendly disposable items
- Food materials (e.g. starch, protein) and health effects
- Materials for biomedical applications (e.g. wound dressing, tissue scaffolding, drug release)
- Biomass utilisation
- Natural biopolymers including polysaccharides (g. cellulose, chitin/chitosan, starch, alginate, pectin, carrageenan, chitosan, hyaluronic acid, and xanthan gum) and proteins (e.g. collagen, silk fibroin, gelatin, keratin, casein, whey protein, and soy protein)
- Compostable and degradable polymers (e.g. PLA, PHA, PCL, PBSA, PBS, PBAT, PVA)
- Polymer processing and materials engineering (e.g. 3D printing, extrusion, electrospinning, mixing, compression moulding, injection moulding)
- Characterisation of material structure and properties such as thermal characterisation (DSC, TGA, DMTA), rheological analysis, mechanical testing, microscopy (SEM, TEM), spectroscopy (FTIR, Raman, XPS), among others
We have strong research capabilities to partner with industry to tackle materials challenges and develop new techniques. Innovations from our lab will help companies in their efforts to improve efficacy while reducing environmental impact and contributing to the growth of the UK’s circular bioeconomy. If you are interested in collaboration with us or funding a research project for us to improve your products, please contact Dr David Fengwei Xie.