“Biomass Derived Nanomaterials for Improving the Sustainability and Performance of Materials (03/12/21)”

Speaker and Affliation:

Dr. Pratheep K. Annamalai
Australian Institute for Bioengineering & Nanotechnology,

The University of Queensland,
St Lucia, Queensland,
Australia, 4072


3rd December, 2021 (Friday), 02:00 PM (India Standard Time)


Microsoft Teams Meet-up


Nanocellulose is a versatile functional nanomaterial, and it can be derived from all the lignocellulose biomass, marine animals and through bacterial engineering. It has a potential to be utilised in plethora of advance engineering applications, from both the sustainability perspectives (economy, environment and society) and new functionalities that can offer. In 2012, we have discovered that a long and thin nanofibres can be isolated from an Australian native arid grass spinifex and found that this nanocellulose can retain the cell wall constituents hemicellulose and lignin. This results in effortless fibrillation, and consequently, the cost-effective production of excellent longer and more flexible nanofibres. This unique combination opens an opportunity for tunability in residual lignocellulosic composition, morphology and the physical and mechanical properties with high product yield, through various chemical pre-treatments and surface modifications. Since the discovery, we have explored the use of spinifex nanocellulose in various applications for various industry sectors and found some limitations and challenges. This presentation will give an overview of our team’s translational research activities in clever applications including ultrathin dipped elastomer products, polymer composites, recycling papers and cementitious materials.

The presentation will also be extended on the strategies for improving sustainability and performance of rigid polyurethane foam for insulation applications, which is the research area I developed at UQ. Insulation is a cost-effective solution for saving energy in in space conditioning and appliances applications, is the need for the hour and rigid polyurethane foam (RPUF) based insulation materials have gained an increased attention for their versatility, processibility and achievable physical properties (high compressive strength, low thermal conductivity) at low-density regime. Our research focuses on achieving sustainability and performance of RPUF insulation materials through systematic incorporation of biomass-derived precursors and nanomaterial additives. The presentation will demonstrate different strategies of thermal insulation and mechanical performance using palm oil (as a reactive polyol) and rod-like cellulose nanocrystals (CNC as nucleating agent), and an industrial grade lignin (as a reactive filler).