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Public Lecture by Prof. Isao Noda

Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology and Friedrich Schiller University Jena cordially invite you to this public lecture by Prof. Isao Noda from the University of Delaware/ USA.

Imagine a Healthier, Cleaner World with Less Plastic Pollution.

The challenge of ending plastic pollution is a difficult one. Instead of the plastic litter now found on our land, beaches and waterways, Prof. Noda foresees a world in which the plastics products we use everyday are made from naturally occuring, sustainable PHA biopolymer. Sustainable, renewable, biobased and completely biodegradable – PHA hold enormous promise for replacing plastics made from petrochemicals. In this lecture with the topic:

"Bio-based and Biodegradable Plastics NodaxTM - Made from Renewable Resources"

Prof. Noda will present the science behind the development and characterization of PHA biopolymers.

The event will be followed by a reception in the foyer of the main university building.


Abstract:

Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) belong to an interesting family of biopolymers produced by a number of microorganisms. They are polyesters metabolically synthesized by microbes as an energy storage medium in a manner very similar to fats and oils in higher organisms. As bio-based and totally biodegradable thermoplastics, PHAs have a potential of being used as a replacement material for conventional petroleum-based plastics. A new class of PHA copolymers, initially developed by a research team of P&G and later transferred to Danimer Scientific for commercialization, have successfully overcome the traditional cost and performance limitations of earlier bio-based resins and is now making a steady inroad to become a mainstream plastic.

The new PHA copolymers manufactured by Danimer Scientific under the trade name of Nodax™ consist of several monomer units: 3-hydroxybutyrate (3HB) and other 3-hydroxyalkanoates (3HAs) with medium chain length (mcl) side groups with at least 3 to about 20 carbon units. This molecular structure resembles that of linear-low density polyethylene, where 3HB units provide the basic repeat units for crystalline polymer backbone, while side groups of other 3HA units deliver structural irregularity leading to the desired lower crystallinity and melt temperature. Within the Nodax™ family of PHAs, there are several different grades of copolymers available, depending on the average molecular weight, mcl-3HA content, and mcl size. The mcl-3HA content regulates the melt temperature and
crystallinity of copolymers, while side group chain length affects the flexibility of copolymer. Nodax™ are produced by bacterial fermentation of various carbon sources derived from renewable resources, such as vegetable oils and sugar.

PHA copolymers with proper mcl side group exhibits excellent toughness and ductility, as well as a convenient thermal property range close to several grades of commodity polymers. Other beneficial properties of Nodax™ family PHAs include the fast and complete aerobic and anaerobic biodegradability, ambient chemical and hydrolytic stability, alkaline digestibility under high temperature, superb oxygen and odor barrier performance, excellent surface property for printing and adhesion, and versatile compatibility with many other materials. The material can be readily converted to films, fibers, sheets, molded articles, nonwoven fabrics, and foams. With the advancement of modern biotechnology, the commercial production of has become economically very competitive. With its uniqueand yet highly complementary nature, Nodax™ PHA copolymers broaden the range and combination of many other biodegradable and renewable materials available for consumer
and industrial product applications.

In this talk, the fundamental science behind the historical development and characterization of Nodax™ PHA copolymers, especially the important role that vibrational spectroscopy has played, will be discussed.

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