Multifunctional biodegradable aerogels as an alternative to plastic

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The research group Eco-friendly Plastics and Composites (e-PLASCOM) at the Universitat Politècnica Catalunya - BarcelonaTech (UPC) is participating in the European Advanced Engineering and Research of aeroGels for Environment and Life Sciences (AERoGELS) project. This project is designed to bring together the knowledge of academic, industrial and regulatory experts on the research and technology of aerogels at European scale.

Aerogels are a type of ultralight material comprised of a gel in which the solvent is replaced by air without collapsing the three-dimensional structure that has previously been formed. Its structure is highly porous and confers unique properties to the aerogels, such as low density, a large specific surface area and low thermal conductivity. This makes aerogels suitable for various applications, such as the absorption of pollution, controlled drug release, scaffolds for biomedical applications, thermal insulation and supercondensers.

In this context, the research group e-PLASCOM is working to develop multifunctional aerogels formed from natural or biodegradable polymers, so that these can be environmentally friendly alternatives that can replace, at least partially, the non-renewable materials used to date.

Obtaining multifunctional aerogels of natural origin could be a way to create sustainable foamed structures with considerable mechanical features, low thermal conductivity and high thermal resistance. The achievement of these objectives will facilitate and promote the application of biological-based materials to sectors such as automation, transport, construction or packaging, to address some of the current European challenges such as the circular economy.

Budget and funding

The Project is financed by the European Union and is part of the European ‘COST ACTION CA18125’, for science and technology cooperation. Its duration is four years (end date: October 2023).

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