Renewable packaging from agriculture waste

Monday, 13 July, 2015
Prof. Emma Master works on new enzymes and proteins that can be used to produce renewable materials from plant fibres. Her findings could boost the biochemical and bioplastics markets.

Plants sustainably synthesize the most abundant and diverse materials on Earth, including cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin. Prof. Master wants to harness these renewable resources to create new materials. Building up of the benefits of the genomic era, she aims to identify novel proteins and enzymes with totally new properties and that can make the plant fibres react in the desired way.

Her team will concentrate on less known enzyme families with potential applications for industry. They will use modern techniques of biotechnology to select proteins from microorganisms that are active on plant fibres and characterize how they function. One of the objectives is to develop new methods to increase researcher’s efficiency in finding proteins and enzymes with specific properties within an extremely varied pool of candidates.

Their results could advance our understanding of the biology of proteins and uncover new ways to process sustainable materials. In particular, Prof. Master will use plant fibres as a raw material for high-performance, renewable packaging that could become alternatives to plastics. The global market for such high-value biochemicals and bioplastics is rapidly increasing, which presents new opportunities for forest and agricultural sectors.

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ERC press release

Aalto University press release

Bio-derived HIgh Value polymers through novel Enzyme function
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