Environmentally benign polymers for products used in aqueous systems

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research develops biobased alternatives for products that are used in aqueous environments. These include water softeners, surfactants, viscosity regulators, absorbers and binding agents. They are, for example, used in dishwashing and cleaning products, products for home & personal care and in water-based paints, adhesives and coatings. This enables chemical companies, producers and end users to reduce their environmental impact, while agri-food companies derive more value from their agri-side streams.

Petrochemical products used in aqueous environments are based on polyacrylate, which is not biodegradable. We replace this substance with customised biopolymers based on, for example, starch, cellulose, pectin, protein hydrolysates, polyhydroxyalkanoates or chitin.

Biopolymers with the right properties

To find the right biopolymer for an application, we take the molecular structure as a starting point. We then modify it specifically to achieve the desired functionality. We deploy a wide range of expertise, from bio- and electrochemical catalysis and microbial synthesis to emulsion polymerisation. In addition, we develop enzymes to modify the biopolymers. We also have a range of analytical tools at our disposal to map the chemical and physical properties of biopolymers. We work together with industrial partners from the entire value chain, from biomass suppliers, to producers and end users. This combination of technological tools and collaboration with the chain is unique in the world and makes it possible to produce biopolymers on demand, with exactly the right properties.

From feedstock to environmentally benign polymers

In various projects we work successfully with the industry on clean polymers for products that come into contact with water:

  • In a project sponsored by the Dutch Topector Agri&Food we developed biopolymers that can substitute polyacrylates in automatic dishwashing. This not only offers benefits for producers and consumers; it also provides the agri-food sector with opportunities to valorize high-quality agricultural flows.
  • Together with producers and users of water treatment products we work on biobased alternatives for currently used petrochemical based products such as polyacrylates and polyacrylamides. Besides this, we develop environmentally benign disinfection methods.
  • In several projects with industrial partners, we have shown that specific protein hydrolysates are suitable as substitutes for polymers based on styrene butadiene.

Full-fledged sustainable alternative

Please contact us if you feel attracted by our approach. Together with you, we are happy to determine the most suitable route towards a fully-fledged, sustainable alternative to your petroleum-based product. 

Would you like to know more?

Are you interested and would you like to know more? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for information without obligations.