CELLECOPROD: Transformation of cellulosic materials into advanced, eco-friendly bioproducts

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The Paper Engineering research group (CELBIOTECH) at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - BarcelonaTech (UPC) is participating in a project to develop biodegradable materials from cellulose, to transform them into advanced, eco-friendly bioproducts.

The aim of the project is to use a natural, abundant resource, such as cellulose, and modify it in a sustainable manner to create advanced bioproducts that are biodegradable, to enhance the bioeconomy and the circular economy. These bioproducts will help to address current social, economic, industrial and environmental challenges related to packaging, water and air quality, and to advance in the early detection of critical health situations.

As part of the CELLECOPROD project, the structural versatility of cellulose will be exploited to modify it physically, chemically and enzymatically, and thus develop these advanced bioproducts. Cellulose will be worked with on macro and nano scales. It will be used individually and combined with other biopolymers to achieve the desired properties, depending on the final application and considering the concept of eco-design.

The new materials will have three main applications:

  • For biopackaging applications, the biomaterials will be able to protect the product inside the package from external agents and impacts. Laminate structures will be achieved based on cellulose with good physical-mechanical and optical properties, and high barrier properties against gases and liquids. In addition, three-dimensional structures such as aerogels will be constructed. They will be capable of absorbing the energy resulting from possible impacts during package transportation.
  • In biomaterials created to improve water or air quality, cellulose will be modified with oxidative or enzymatic treatments, and functionalised with various biopolymers, to obtain cellulose structures that can efficiently remove contaminants through filtration processes (using membranes) or adsorption (using aerogels and hydrogels).
  • Finally, biosensors will be developed using immobilisation strategies of biocomponents, to create continuous monitoring devices that can easily detect critical health situations.

The development of new biomaterials and eco-friendly products from natural resources such as plant biomass (in which cellulose is the main component) will ensure that they are biodegradable. Therefore, this project will contribute to reducing the large amount of non-biodegradable waste currently generated by petroleum-derived products (plastics), which have a significant environmental impact. Furthermore, the application of the eco-design concept is expected to minimise the amount of raw material used for the applications in which these new cellulose-based biomaterials would be used.

The main added value of the project is to find ways to transform cellulose into new eco-friendly products with different capacities and functionalities depending on their final application, and to replace other non-biodegradable materials that are harmful to the environment.


Budget and financing

The project is endowed with a total budget of €118,580, financed through the State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation 2017-2020 (Spanish State Research Agency). It has a duration of four years (2021-2025).


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