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Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2023-03-01 - 2024-02-29

Replacing fossil raw materials with renewable, biobased alternatives or promoting the development of renewable raw material sources are cornerstones of the Austrian Bioeconomy Strategy 2030. Aquatic plants (macrophytes) offer hitherto untapped potential for this. Climatically induced changes, as well as eutrophication of water bodies, lead to an increase in aquatic plant populations in Vienna and its surroundings. This can be seen, among other things, in the increasing weed growth in the Old and New Danube. To ensure ecological quality and recreational activities, the removal of these water plants is inevitable. Investigations by the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU) at the Tulln site showed that valuable special papers, as well as biobased and highly compacted board materials, can be produced from this biomass. For this purpose, a fiber material is used that is obtained from the aquatic plants by a pulping process. However, aquatic plants also have a high content of proteins and soluble biopolymers, which can be used for the production of adhesives. Furthermore, extractives from aquatic plants have antioxidant properties and can thus be incorporated into smart packaging materials. In this follow-up project, BOKU, together with the Federal Environment Agency, will investigate the cascaded use of water plants. The aim is to develop an ecological and economic concept for the use of water plant components in different material applications.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2023-03-01 - 2030-02-28

“Green chemistry” is a current buzzword. Nevertheless, the need for more and better green processes in the chemical industries and the biorefinery and cellulose value chains is undebated today and the ongoing transition from a fossil-based into a renewables-based society is out of the question. Green chemistry means much more than just starting from renewable resources – although this is an important prerequisite. A green chemical process considers all related process characteristics, such as yields, solvents, energy fluxes, auxiliaries, recyclability, byproducts, environmental and ecological aspects, and often the insufficiency with regard to these criteria deteriorates the sustainability of allegedly green chemical approaches. The cellulose-based pulp and paper industry as a prime example of biorefinery, as well as major parts of the textile industry, and many follow-up industries which are based on cellulose (and nowadays lignin) have the advantage that they use renewable starting materials (biomass) already. With the increasing focus on sustainability issues, the green process aspects gain more and more importance in these industries, and science has to address the related fundamental questions so that truly green chemical processes and products become more and more dominant in these industries. The surge of interest in green chemistry from the academic viewpoint thus goes hand in hand with the industrial demand for green chemical processes and products – actually, a win-win scenario. Taking advantage of this favorable general background and the specific advantages stemming from 25 years of research activities around the chemistry of renewable resources and biorefinery at BOKU – and in particular cellulose and lignin chemistry – the “CD Laboratory for Cellulose High-Tech Materials” will address current scientific challenges in this field of cellulose chemistry together with its four industrial partners: • Supercritical CO2 methods in separation, analysis, purification, and derivatization of cellulose and biorefinery products. • Combination of cellulose and renewable starting materials with modern, sustainable modification methods to avoid the need for greenwashing of products and processes. • Advanced understanding of degradation and aging of biomass and cellulose processing components as the basis of minimizing side reactions during processing, extending the lifecycles, and improving the recyclability of products. • Advanced molecular-level characterization of (surface)modified biomass/cellulose components for a better understanding of structure-property-application relationships. • Chemistry of cellulose, derivatization, swelling and dissolution behavior, reactivity, stability, molecular-level analysis and characterization, functional group and MW profiling, degradation behavior and mechanisms, cellulose model compounds, chromophore chemistry. The work is planned to be conducted on four topics, each one roughly coinciding with the field and interests of one of the four industrial partners: • Topic 1: Strengthening strategies for cellulose-based filter products • Topic 2: Stabilizing lyocell dopes for safe and efficient cellulose fiber production • Topic 3: Cellulose derivatives and biomass-based non-isocyanate polyurethanes (NIPUs) as binders • Topic 4: Environmentally benign textile dyeing
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2021-11-01 - 2024-10-31

In this research project materials for the separation and analysis of chiral compounds based on high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) will be developed and evaluated. The research work is thematically located at the interface between organic and analytical chemistry, the chemistry of renewable raw materials (cellulose and other polysaccharides), and in the field of pharmaceutical analysis. The separation of chiral compounds into the respective enantiomers is an omnipresent analytical and preparative challenge in medical, pharmaceutical, and chemical disciplines. This applies to, for example, the production and purity determination of chiral drugs (e.g. ibuprofen), the pharmacokinetic profiling of optically active pharmaceuticals in both human and veterinary medicine, as well as the investigation of food contaminants (e.g. mycotoxins) and environmental pollutants (e.g. chiral fungicides and pesticides). The most common method here is direct chiral HPLC. A large number of HPLC column materials based on a wide variety of chiral selectors is already commercially available, with polysaccharide-based silica gel hybrid phases having emerged as the most powerful ones. However, these are only available in neutral form. Chiral compounds also contain acidic and basic molecular structural motifs and are therefore often present in their respective ionized form as organic salts. The aim of the project is thus to develop novel chiral ion-exchangers based on polysaccharide derivatives, which can be used in the above-mentioned disciplines for the separation of chiral organic acids and bases that were previously difficult to separate. The underlying molecular recognition mechanisms will also be investigated for a better understanding of the separation parameters.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations