Invited Talk: Waste Valorization: an Approach to Advanced Functional Materials

Nagarajan, R. - Presenter, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Xia, Z., University of Massachusetts Lowell
Kulkarni, S., University of Massachusetts Lowell
Mosurkal, R., CCDC SC
Kumar, J., University of Massachusetts Lowell
Advanced functional materials development is increasingly driven by new requirements as well as sustainability considerations. Waste co-products can serve as sustainable and cost-effective feedstock for the production of the next generation of safer advanced functional materials. This concept is illustrated with two classes of waste co-products that can be efficiently converted into advanced functional additives.

The development of non-halogenated flame retardant materials (FR) using co-products obtained from the food industry will be presented. It has been demonstrated that combinations of naturally occurring phenols and phytic acid can be utilized to yield additives that have excellent char forming and fire retardant properties.

Biobased and bio-inspired surfactants are the second class of materials that will be discussed. Non-ionic surfactants such as nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE), are being phased out due to their aquatic toxicity. A new class of surfactants based on polysaccharides obtained predominantly from fruit waste has been developed recently. These surfactants derived from waste exhibit surface activity similar to that of NPE.

These two examples demonstrate the possibility of utilizing co-products to develop advanced functional materials that serve as sustainable alternatives to toxic materials such as halogenated flame-retardants and toxic surfactants. The benefits for the pursuit of materials research using waste feedstock transcends sustainability considerations and often opens exciting possibilities, making it worthwhile from a scientific and commercial perspective.