Activity: Talk or presentation › Invited talk › Academic
Polysaccharides play an important role in the development of a circular economy. Their abundancy is needed to decouple our chemicals and materials production from fossil feedstock. Moreover, polysaccharides have unique properties in these application. The specific properties of polysaccharides are key in the development of smart, functional materials. The fact that about 40% of the starch produced is used in industrial applications is a clear proof of the functionality of this material. When developing starch based products we make smart use of the fact that starch is (environmentally) safe, edible, readily biodegradable and has good gas barrier properties. But also in technical applications starch and its derivatives offer various opportunities. Examples are water soluble support structures for 3D-printing and using the high melting enthalpy of various sugar derivatives in heat storage applications. Whereas cellulose and starch are frequently used in industrial and smart applications there is an increasing interest in developing materials based on other polysaccharides like chitin (anti-microbial properties) and polysaccharides from derived seaweed like alginates that at presently used in dentistry and in medical applications. In this respect adding value with specific functionalities of polysaccharides should always be preferred over developments aiming at one on one replacements of current chemicals and materials. This since the specific properties that allow development of smart materials could get lost during extensive modification that would be needed to mimic fossil based materials.