Special Issue "Biopolymers and Biobased Polymers: Chemistry and Engineering"

A special issue of Polymers (ISSN 2073-4360). This special issue belongs to the section "Biopolymers".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Fengwei Xie Website E-Mail
International Institute for Nanocomposites Manufacturing (IINM), WMG, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK
Interests: polymers from renewable resources, natural polymers, biopolymers, biodegradable polymers, biobased polymers, polysaccharides, starch, cellulose, chitosan, chitin, protein, polymer processing, polymer engineering, polymer physics, polymer blends, polymer composites, polymer nanocomposites, sustainable materials, biodegradable materials, functional materials, bioplastics, processing-structure-property relationship
Guest Editor
Dr. Binjia Zhang Website E-Mail
Key Laboratory of Environment Correlative Dietology (Ministry of Education), College of Food Science and Technology, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, Hubei 430070, China
Interests: natural polymers for food and high-value materials, SAXS/SANS insights into starch, multi-level structure characterization of starch and related modelling, biosynthesis-structure-functionality relationships of starch, real-time structural evolutions of polymers during processing

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Petroleum-derived polymers have been popular for decades due to their interesting attributes, such as their lightness and strong mechanical properties, which makes them extremely useful for a wide range of application areas, such as packaging, transportation, household, construction, and aerospace. Despite this, in recent years there has been a strong research focus on a new class of polymers, namely, biopolymers (e.g., polysaccharides and proteins) and biobased polymers (e.g., polylactide and bio-polyesters). Much effort has already been devoted to replacing traditional oil-based polymers with these biopolymers and biobased polymers. In this regard, a major reason is that the heavy use of non-degradable synthetic polymers for decades has negatively influenced people’s health and caused irreversible damage to the environment. Given this, our human society urgently needs sustainable solutions to address the issues induced by the traditional ‘produce–use–discard’ practice. The other motivation to embrace biopolymers and biobased polymers is associated with their unique properties and appealing functionality. In particular, these polymers present enormous potential for environmental and biomedical applications due to their biodegradability, nontoxicity, chemical versatility and reactivity, biocompatibility, and bioresorbability.

Despite their enormous potential, challenges remain for the application of biopolymers and biobased polymers. Engineering difficulties may exist for these ‘green’ polymers that prevent them from being cost-effectively processed into materials with desired forms and structures. Besides this, the resultant materials from biopolymers and biobased polymers may exhibit unsatisfactory properties (e.g., mechanical) for certain applications. Numerous studies have therefore been undertaken to enhance the competitiveness of biopolymers and biobased polymers by various means such as molecular design, chemical modification, material hybridisation, and process innovation. This Special Issue is concerned with the chemistry and engineering aspects of different biopolymers (e.g., cellulose, chitosan/chitin, starch, proteins, and pectins) and biobased polymers (e.g., polylactide and polyhydroxyalkanoates). The issue provides an opportunity to discuss the trends in the field of biopolymers and biobased polymers, addresses the fundamental understanding of the structure–processing–property relationship for materials design, and highlights new, advanced, and functional materials developed from these sustainable polymers for diverse and emerging applications.

Dr. Fengwei (David) Xie
Dr. Binjia Zhang
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Polymers is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Polymers from renewable resources
  • Natural polymers
  • Biopolymers
  • Polysaccharides
  • Biobased polymers
  • Bio-polyesters
  • Biomass-derived polymers
  • Agro-polymers
  • Biodegradable polymers
  • Polymer engineering
  • Polymer composites
  • Sustainable materials
  • Biodegradable materials
  • Biosafe materials
  • Environmentally-friendly materials
  • Functional materials
  • Bioplastics
  • Chemical modification
  • Structural modification
  • Sustainable processes
  • Processing technologies
  • Processing–structure–property relationships

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Fluorescent and Mechanical Properties of Silicon Quantum Dots Modified Sodium Alginate-Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium Nanocomposite Bio-Polymer Films
Polymers 2019, 11(9), 1476; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11091476 - 09 Sep 2019
Abstract
Highly luminescent silicon quantum dots (SiQDs) were prepared via one-pot hydrothermal route. Furthermore, the optimal synthetic conditions, dependence of the emission spectrum on the excitation wavelength and fluorescent stability of SiQDs were investigated by fluorescence spectroscopy. SiQDs exhibited bright blue fluorescence, and photoluminescence [...] Read more.
Highly luminescent silicon quantum dots (SiQDs) were prepared via one-pot hydrothermal route. Furthermore, the optimal synthetic conditions, dependence of the emission spectrum on the excitation wavelength and fluorescent stability of SiQDs were investigated by fluorescence spectroscopy. SiQDs exhibited bright blue fluorescence, and photoluminescence (PL) lifetime is 10.8 ns when excited at 325 nm. The small-sized SiQDs (~3.3 nm) possessed uniform particle size, crystal lattice spacing of 0.31 nm and silicon (111), (220) crystal planes. Luminescent SiQDs/sodium alginate (SA)-carboxymethylcellulose sodium (CMC) nanocomposite bio-polymer films were successfully fabricated by incorporating SiQDs into the SA-CMC matrix. Meanwhile, SiQDs not only impart strong fluorescence to the polymer, but also make the composite films have favorable toughness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers and Biobased Polymers: Chemistry and Engineering)
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Open AccessArticle
Influence of Annealing and Biaxial Expansion on the Properties of Poly(l-Lactic Acid) Medical Tubing
Polymers 2019, 11(7), 1172; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11071172 - 11 Jul 2019
Abstract
Poly-l-lactic acid (PLLA) is one of the most common bioabsorbable materials in the medical device field. However, its use in load-bearing applications is limited due to its inferior mechanical properties when compared to many of the competing metal-based permanent and bioabsorbable [...] Read more.
Poly-l-lactic acid (PLLA) is one of the most common bioabsorbable materials in the medical device field. However, its use in load-bearing applications is limited due to its inferior mechanical properties when compared to many of the competing metal-based permanent and bioabsorbable materials. The objective of this study was to directly compare the influence of both annealing and biaxial expansion processes to improve the material properties of PLLA. Results showed that both annealing and biaxial expansion led to an overall increase in crystallinity and that the crystallites formed during both processes were in the α’ and α forms. 2D-WAXS patterns showed that the preferred orientation of crystallites formed during annealing was parallel to the circumferential direction. While biaxial expansion resulted in orientation in both axial and circumferential directions, with relatively equal sized crystals in both directions, Da (112 Å) and Dc (97 Å). The expansion process had the most profound effect on mechanical performance, with a 65% increase in Young’s modulus, a 45% increase in maximum tensile stress and an 18-fold increase in strain at maximum load. These results indicate that biaxially expanding PLLA at a temperature above Tcc is possible, due to the high strain rates associated with stretch blow moulding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers and Biobased Polymers: Chemistry and Engineering)
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Open AccessArticle
Liquefaction of Peanut Shells with Cation Exchange Resin and Sulfuric Acid as Dual Catalyst for the Subsequent Synthesis of Rigid Polyurethane Foam
Polymers 2019, 11(6), 993; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11060993 - 04 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The conversion of lignocellulosic biomass from renewable raw materials to high value-added fine chemicals expanded their application in biodegradable polymers materials synthesis, such as polyurethanes and phenolic resin, etc. In this work, the strong-acid cation exchange resin and sulfuric acid as the dual [...] Read more.
The conversion of lignocellulosic biomass from renewable raw materials to high value-added fine chemicals expanded their application in biodegradable polymers materials synthesis, such as polyurethanes and phenolic resin, etc. In this work, the strong-acid cation exchange resin and sulfuric acid as the dual catalyst offered an effective way to catalyze the liquefaction reaction of the peanut shells. The properties of liquefied products were characterized by means of hydroxyl value, viscosity and solubility tests, while the properties of peanut shells and liquefaction residue were analyzed by means of ATR-FTIR, TG and SEM techniques. The results indicated that the liquefied products could be completely dissolved in deionized water, methanol and polyethylene glycol, respectively, and they could be a preferable substitution of petrochemical polyols as soft segments to synthesize the rigid polyurethane foams. Moreover, the cellulose and hemicellulose in the peanut shells were easily decomposed into smaller molecules via the breakage of the C–O bond besides five-membered and hexatomic ring, while the lignin could be degraded via the breakage of the C–O chemical bonds of β-O-4, 4-O-5 and dibenzodioxocin units. The fabricated rigid polyurethane (RPU) foam, containing higher percentage of open pores with uniform size, can be potentially utilized for flower mud and sound-absorbing materials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers and Biobased Polymers: Chemistry and Engineering)
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Open AccessArticle
The Influence of Low Shear Microbore Extrusion on the Properties of High Molecular Weight Poly(l-Lactic Acid) for Medical Tubing Applications
Polymers 2019, 11(4), 710; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11040710 - 18 Apr 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Biodegradable polymers play a crucial role in the medical device field, with a broad range of applications such as suturing, drug delivery, tissue engineering, scaffolding, orthopaedics, and fixation devices. Poly-l-lactic acid (PLLA) is one of the most commonly used and investigated [...] Read more.
Biodegradable polymers play a crucial role in the medical device field, with a broad range of applications such as suturing, drug delivery, tissue engineering, scaffolding, orthopaedics, and fixation devices. Poly-l-lactic acid (PLLA) is one of the most commonly used and investigated biodegradable polymers. The objective of this study was to determine the influence low shear microbore extrusion exerts on the properties of high molecular weight PLLA for medical tubing applications. Results showed that even at low shear rates there was a considerable reduction in molecular weight (Mn = 7–18%) during processing, with a further loss (Mn 11%) associated with resin drying. An increase in melt residence time from ~4 mins to ~6 mins, translated into a 12% greater reduction in molecular weight. The degradation mechanism was determined to be thermal and resulted in a ~22-fold increase in residual monomer. The differences in molecular weight between both batches had no effect on the materials thermal or morphological properties. However, it did affect its mechanical properties, with a significant impact on tensile strength and modulus. Interestingly there was no effect on the elongational proprieties of the tubing. There was also an observed temperature-dependence of mechanical properties below the glass transition temperature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers and Biobased Polymers: Chemistry and Engineering)
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Open AccessArticle
DNA Compaction and Charge Neutralization Regulated by Divalent Ions in very Low pH Solution
Polymers 2019, 11(2), 337; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11020337 - 15 Feb 2019
Abstract
DNA conformation is strongly dependent on the valence of counterions in solution, and a valence of at least three is needed for DNA compaction. Recently, we directly demonstrated DNA compaction and its regulation, mediated by divalent cations, by lowering the pH of a [...] Read more.
DNA conformation is strongly dependent on the valence of counterions in solution, and a valence of at least three is needed for DNA compaction. Recently, we directly demonstrated DNA compaction and its regulation, mediated by divalent cations, by lowering the pH of a solution. In the present study, we found that the critical electrophoretic mobility of DNA is promoted to around −1.0 × 10−4 cm2 V−1 s−1 to incur DNA compaction or condensation in a tri- and tetravalent counterions solution, corresponding to an about 89% neutralized charge fraction of DNA. This is also valid for DNA compaction by divalent counterions in a low pH solution. It is notable that the critical charge neutralization of DNA for compaction is only about 1% higher than the saturated charge fraction of DNA in a mild divalent ion solution. We also found that DNA compaction by divalent cations at low pH is weakened and even decondensed with an increasing concentration of counterions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers and Biobased Polymers: Chemistry and Engineering)
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Open AccessArticle
Functional Porous Carboxymethyl Cellulose/Cellulose Acetate Composite Microspheres: Preparation, Characterization, and Application in the Effective Removal of HCN from Cigarette Smoke
Polymers 2019, 11(1), 181; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11010181 - 21 Jan 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
To selectively reduce the yield of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) in the cigarette smoke, functional porous carboxymethyl cellulose/cellulose acetate (CMC/CA) composite microspheres were prepared via the double emulsion-solvent evaporation method. Cupric ions, which have a high complexing ability toward HCN, were introduced to the [...] Read more.
To selectively reduce the yield of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) in the cigarette smoke, functional porous carboxymethyl cellulose/cellulose acetate (CMC/CA) composite microspheres were prepared via the double emulsion-solvent evaporation method. Cupric ions, which have a high complexing ability toward HCN, were introduced to the CMC/CA composite microspheres during the fabrication process via an in situ ion cross-link method. The microspheres were characterized using nitrogen adsorption, mercury intrusion porosimetry, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The microspheres have a predominantly macroporous structure indicating weak physisorption properties, but sufficient functional cupric ion groups to selectively adsorb HCN. With these CMC/CA microspheres as filter additives, the smoke yield of HCN could be reduced up to 50%, indicating the great potential of these microspheres as absorbents for removing HCN from cigarette smoke. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers and Biobased Polymers: Chemistry and Engineering)
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Open AccessArticle
Bagasse Cellulose Grafted with an Amino-Terminated Hyperbranched Polymer for the Removal of Cr(VI) from Aqueous Solution
Polymers 2018, 10(8), 931; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10080931 - 20 Aug 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
A novel bio-adsorbent was fabricated via grafting an amino-terminated hyperbranched polymer (HBP-NH2) onto bagasse cellulose. The morphology and microstructure of the HBP-NH2-grafted bagasse cellulose (HBP-g-BC) were characterized and its adsorption capacity for Cr(VI) ions in aqueous solutions [...] Read more.
A novel bio-adsorbent was fabricated via grafting an amino-terminated hyperbranched polymer (HBP-NH2) onto bagasse cellulose. The morphology and microstructure of the HBP-NH2-grafted bagasse cellulose (HBP-g-BC) were characterized and its adsorption capacity for Cr(VI) ions in aqueous solutions was investigated. The rough surface structure of HBP-g-BC that is beneficial for improving the adsorption capacity was observed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The grafting reaction was confirmed by Fourier-transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy. The adsorbent performance was shown to be better with a lower pH value, a higher adsorbent dosage, or a higher initial Cr(VI) concentration. Moreover, the kinetics study revealed that the adsorption behavior followed a pseudo-second-order model. The isotherm results showed that the adsorption data could be well-fitted by the Langmuir, Freundlich, or Temkin models. Moreover, HBP-g-BC could maintain 74.4% of the initial removal rate even after five cycles of regeneration. Thus, the high potential of HBP-g-BC as a bio-adsorbent for heavy metal removal has been demonstrated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers and Biobased Polymers: Chemistry and Engineering)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Synthesis and Properties of Gelatin Methacryloyl (GelMA) Hydrogels and Their Recent Applications in Load-Bearing Tissue
Polymers 2018, 10(11), 1290; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10111290 - 21 Nov 2018
Abstract
Photocrosslinked gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) hydrogels have attracted great concern in the biomedical field because of their good biocompatibility and tunable physicochemical properties. Herein, different approaches to synthesize GelMA were introduced, especially, the typical method using UV light to crosslink the gelatin-methacrylic anhydride (MA) [...] Read more.
Photocrosslinked gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) hydrogels have attracted great concern in the biomedical field because of their good biocompatibility and tunable physicochemical properties. Herein, different approaches to synthesize GelMA were introduced, especially, the typical method using UV light to crosslink the gelatin-methacrylic anhydride (MA) precursor was introduced in detail. In addition, the traditional and cutting-edge technologies to characterize the properties of GelMA hydrogels and GelMA prepolymer were also overviewed and compared. Furthermore, the applications of GelMA hydrogels in cell culture and tissue engineering especially in the load-bearing tissue (bone and cartilage) were summarized, followed by concluding remarks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers and Biobased Polymers: Chemistry and Engineering)
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