Biobased materials

Biobased materials

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is involved in research and development of biobased materials and products. Examples of materials and products we are working on include bioplastics for packaging, casings for consumer electronics, textiles and parts for the automotive industry. We also work on inks, coatings, paper, cardboard, construction materials and biomedical materials.

Developing, improving and applying

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is focused on the development of renewable materials such as bioplastics (thermoplastics and thermosets), natural fibre based materials (such as composites), coatings and adhesives. To compete with petroleum-based materials, our laboratories work on the improvement of characteristics in the field of, for instance, heat and moisture resistance. Next to that, we develop polymer additives such as stabilizers and softening agents. We often perform this one-on-one for the industry, although we are also active in major European and national research programmes such as the Biobased Performance Materials (BPM) Programme.

In our research we try to optimise the use of specific and unique characteristics of biopolymers, such as antimicrobial effects or biodegradability in various environments.

We develop polymer materials and products based on:

  • Natural polymers such as starch, cellulose, lignin and protein
  • Polymers made by micro-organisms such as PHAs (including PHB) and polypeptides
  • Polymers made from biobased building blocks, such as (poly)lactic acid (PLA), furans (FDCA/PEF) and isosorbide

High-quality use of biomass components

There is an increasing focus on converting organic waste, side and residual streams into high-quality products. This involves both homogeneous and heterogeneous biomass from, for instance, the agro-food sector and the biofuel and paper industry. An example is the use of lignocellulose biomass. Instead of using it for the production of energy and fuels the material is extracted and used to create other (more valuable) products. Another example is the conversion of waste water and green waste into fatty acids that can then be converted into PHAs.

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research offers a profound scientific foundation, excellent experts and facilities and is market-oriented too. I rarely see this combination at one location.
Christian Lenges, Business Development DuPont Industrial Bioscience
Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is an independent research partner with considerable knowhow on the major conversion processes for PLA
Robert Haan, application specialist, Total Corbion PLA

Expertise and facilities

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has decades of experience in the development of biobased materials and products. Our dedicated team of experts uses its extensive background knowledge to work on research and product development in our laboratories and pilot and testing facilities. Recent examples include the successful development of coffee cups based on polylactic acid and the development of furan-based polymer materials. We also developed packaging materials from tomato stems and leaves, and developed a process in which side streams from palm oil production can be converted into dissolving cellulose – a valuable raw material used in for instance textiles and plastics.

Together with partners we developed natural rubber from dandelions and guayule. In addition to the use of alternative raw materials we also expect a further expansion of our activities in the applicability of existing biobased materials and the further development of new biobased polymers and polymer additives. All these efforts will make it technically possible to develop an increasing number of applications, including train, aircraft and car parts, household appliances, computer casings and floor coverings.