In the current context of sustainability, there is a growing interest in developing novel active functional materials based on sustainable bioresources such as cellulose. One specific challenge concerns the use of Bacterial Cellulose (BC), which is a highly pure form of cellulose produced by several bacterial strains in the form of a tridimensional network of nano and microfibrils. Due to its inherent biocompatibility, biodegradability and unique mechanical properties, BC has found applications in several fields, with particular emphasis on the biomedical area [1]. Because of its high specific strength, modulus and aspect ratio, BC can significantly improve the mechanical performances of nanocomposite materials (eg with other natural polysaccharides like chitosan and pullulan), while increasing their barrier properties (to oxygen, water vapour or aromatic compounds) as well as other functional properties if adequately modified (eg antimicrobial activity) [2,3,4].

However, due to its high surface area and hydrophilic nature to efficiently reinforce most of the classical non polar polymeric matrices and improve barrier properties as well as other functional properties the heterogeneous modification of BC nanofibers with adequate functionalities is often required.

In this context, we envisage tailoring the BC surface properties by sustainable functionalization methods, to produce innovative bio-based nanomaterials. In particular, green chemical and enzymatic catalysed methodologies will be developed to perform such heterogeneous modifications. The modified BC will then be use to design reinforced nanocomposites exhibiting barrier and antimicrobial properties.

The research will be performed in a close collaboration between two academic research groups (LCPO, University of Bordeaux in France and CICECO University of Aveiro in Portugal). Both institutions have a strong expertise in the synthesis and characterization of bacterial cellulose and bio-based materials. They are academic leaders in sustainable polymer science. The third partner, Solvay, is a world leader in cellulose acetate business. The PhD student will share his/her time between these 3 partners.

[1] A.J.D. Silvestre, C.S.R. Freire, C.P. Neto “Do bacterial cellulose membranes have potential in drug delivery systems?”, Expert Opin. Drug Deliv. 2014 11(7), 1-12.
[2] V. Coma, C. S. R. Freire and A. J. D. Silvestre; “Recent advances on the development of antibacterial polysaccharide-based materials, Chitosan, cellulose and starch”, in “Polysaccharides: Bioactivity and Biotechnology”, J.M. Merillon and K. G. Ramawat, Springer Int. in press
[3] A. R. P. Figueiredo, C. Vilela, C. Pascoal Neto, A.J.D. Silvestre and C.S.R. Freire, “Bacterial cellulose based nanocomposites: a roadmap for innovative materials”. In “Nanocellulose Polymer Nanocomposites: From Fundamental to Applications", V. K. Thakur (Ed.), Wiley –Scrivener, 2015, Cap 2.
[4] V. Coma V., 2012. Recent developments in chitin and chitosan bio-based materials used for food preservation In “Polysaccharide Building Blocks: A Sustainable Approach To Renewable Materials”,Wiley and Sons, Eds Habibi Y. and Lucia LA,USA, 143-175.

Project Partners

Department of Chemistry, University Aveiro, Portugal: BC production - synthesis and characterization of composites

Laboratory for Chemistry of Organic Polymers (LCPO) Bordeaux, France: BC functionalization - Bioactive/biodegradation studies

Industry Partner: Solvay: BC functionalizations and upscaling studies

Host Country (employment): Portugal


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