Biopolymer functionalisation and characterisation

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is specialised in characterising and improving the functional properties of various biopolymers, from lignin and cellulose to pectin and proteins. We do this for producers of biobased products and for biomass suppliers who want to get more value from residual streams.

Adding the right features with technology

Biopolymers are used for many applications, from asphalt, construction material and textile to paints, coatings, adhesives, home and personal care products and packaging. The challenge is to give the biopolymers exactly those properties that the product needs.

Our work usually starts with identifying these desired properties. This starts with detailed characterisation of the biopolymer’s composition and properties. In addition, we develop technological pathways to give biopolymers the desired properties. These can be either chemical of chemical-catalytical routes, but also enzymatic. Another promising technology is electrochemistry, with which we carry out efficient conversions into functionalised polymers or smaller molecules under mild conditions.

Technological breakthroughs

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is one of the world’s leading institutes in biopolymer functionalisation and characterisation. We have unique knowledge of both the composition and properties of residual streams and functionalised biopolymers. Our technologies to functionalise biopolymers are tailored in such a way to meet the requirements for industrial application. We play a leading role in a large number of research programmes, from EU-programmes to bilateral projects with industrial partners. This had led to many technological breakthroughs:

  • Thanks to our clean label processing technology, we have demonstrated that starch can be customised for specific applications in food and non-food products.
  • By using esterification, we can control the biodegradability and properties of cellulose.
  • With enzymatic functionalisation we are able to give pectin tailor-made properties which can be used in, for example, applications like automatic dishwashing or leather products.
  • We have developed several non-food applications for protein fractions in leather, glue and coating applications.
  • We have developed patented technologies to apply lignin as bitumen substitute in bio asphalt.

Interested in the possibilities?

Contact us for an informal conversation.