Lipid utilization - Polymers/Materials Chemistry research group's mandate is to develop new monomers, biopolymers, biomaterials and bionanomaterials from lipids (plant oils) and other renewable resources for industrial applications. Therefore, our major research interests are on the synthesis of monomers, biopolymers, nano-engineered biopolymers, nano-biocomposites, biosorbents and bioconjugates from renewable resources using different catalytic techniques for various applications. More specifically the research is focused on the conversion of Carbondioxide (CO2) into methanol and hydrogen (H2) production from waste biomass; the development of renewable monomers/chemicals from lipids and preparation of biopolymers and biopolymer based nanocomposites for high performance industrial applications; utilization of lipids and protein biopolymers for the preparation of modified and nano-structured biomaterials for water remediation and biodegradable packaging; development of conjugates and nano-modification of lipids for therapeutic applications.
1. Materials development from Carbondioxide (CO2) & Crude Glycerin and hydrogen (H2) production from waste biomass.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a prevalent greenhouse gas, significantly contributing to climate change. Simultaneously, the excessive generation of food waste raises environmental concerns. Moreover, the biodiesel and oleochemical sectors currently account for over 10% of crude glycerol production, which presents economic challenges for purification and restricts its utility in industries like food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. As these industries undergo rapid expansion, they confront the dual challenges of meeting the growing demand for biofuels and food, while efficiently managing surplus crude glycerol and food waste to mitigate their environmental impact. In response to these formidable obstacles, we are at the forefront of pioneering innovative approaches to convert CO2, food waste, and glycerin into high-value products for a diverse range of applications. These cutting-edge processes generate a wide array of valuable chemicals, polymers, and clean fuels, including hydrogen (H2).
2. Synthesis of Monomers, Chemicals and Biopolymers from Renewable Lipids
In light of the global surge in environmental consciousness, there has been a notable uptick in the utilization of renewable feedstocks. Lipids, by their renewable nature, hold intrinsic value within this context, offering potential sustainability in the production of renewable monomers and polymeric materials. Our ongoing efforts are focused on pioneering innovative methods for transforming lipids into renewable monomers and polymers, addressing a wide range of application needs.
3. Nano-structured Biomaterials for different applications
The excessive reliance on fossil fuel-derived materials for packaging has been a major contributor to environmental pollution and waste management challenges. Consequently, the pursuit of biodegradable materials sourced from renewable resources has garnered considerable attention. While materials constructed from natural polymers offer environmental benefits, they often exhibit inferior physical properties when compared to conventional materials. To address these limitations, we are exploring the potential of nanotechnology. Nanostructured materials, characterized by at least one dimension on the nanometer scale, represent the forefront of high-performance materials. Our primary focus currently centers on the development of nano-engineered biomaterials tailored for specific applications within the packaging (both in the food and non-food sectors) and automotive industries.
4. Development of Renewable Sorbents/Biopolymers for Industrial/Oil Sands Process Affected Water Remediation and Mine Tailings Consolidations
Water stands as the most invaluable compound on our planet, essential for all forms of life. Yet, the rapid industrialization, surging population growth, and intensifying agricultural activities have cast a shadow of serious water pollution threats on a global scale. Notably, industrial procedures, such as those seen in oil sands and other manufacturing operations, consume substantial quantities of water, lead to waste water generation such as the process-affected water (OSPW) generated during bitumen extraction. The application of innovative sorbents developed from waste resources harbors tremendous promise in the realm of water remediation, harmonizing technology with environmental preservation. Our dedicated team is actively engaged in the development of cutting-edge sorbents and engineered biopolymers, designed for the simultaneous removal of diverse contaminants from industrial wastewater and the consolidation of tailings.
5. Lipid-derived Nano-particles and Bio-conjugates for Therapeutic Applications
Cancer remains a prominent cause of human mortality, prompting a relentless pursuit of improved treatment strategies. Traditional chemotherapeutic agents often encounter problems like limited solubility and severe side effects. A significant challenge in targeted drug delivery is the creation of nanostructures that are biocompatible, non-toxic, capable of efficiently encapsulating therapeutic agents, and releasing them at the intended site with precision. Notably, the quest to develop sustainable and environmentally friendly materials for this purpose has been ongoing. Lipids, given their inherent biodegradability, biocompatibility, non-toxic nature, and absence of allergenic properties, emerge as promising candidates for therapeutic applications. Moreover, the hydrophobic properties of lipids render them ideal for precise drug delivery and even for advancing gene-silencing endeavors. Our team is actively engaged in the development of lipid-based nanomaterials tailored for these specific applications.