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Production of new sustainable materials for everyday life

University research proposes new biodegradable materials that can be used in the environmental, food, pharmaceutical and medical industries.

/Max Petitjean

17 | 06 | 2022

Some chemicals can cause major problems in the natural environment, such as pollution or loss of biodiversity, but chemistry can also contribute to slowing down environmental degradation. This is the starting point for research carried out by the French Max Petitjean (Sens, 27) who has been working on new sustainable chemical products in order to help curb environmental problems. His thesis, entitled "Development of sustainable polysaccharide matrices with hydrophobic modifications"was directed by the professor José Ramón Isasiin the Department of Chemistry of the Faculty of Science of the University of Navarra.

Petitjean's work has involved the preparation of different types of biodegradable and compostable materials (powders, films, sponges, nanofibres) taking into account the 12 principles of sustainable chemistry, recognised in the literature: using biodegradable products; preventing the creation of waste; designing safe products and compounds; creating less hazardous syntheses; using renewable raw materials; using catalysts; avoiding chemical derivatives; maximising atomic economy; using safe reactions; increasing energy efficiency; monitoring chemical processes to avoid pollution; and minimising accident risks.


"The molecules used in my research come from nature or are simple derivatives obtained by synthesis that have not generated any pollution, and even the use of solvents has been avoided, except for water," says Max Petitjean.  

Max's proposal can serve as a basis for different applications, for example in the environment, using biodegradable materials that can be integrated into the products we use in everyday life. But it could also have applications in the food, pharmaceutical and medical industries.

"We have seen that it was possible to select sorbed molecules depending on the composition of the matrix, which can be useful in the food sector. We can also improve the sorption power of pollutants or drugs by adding biomolecules and changing the synthesis, for an application in the environmental and pharmaceutical fields. Nanofibres in general can have an application in regenerative medicine as coatings on prostheses for the body to accept and release drugs.

This basic research has great potential for future applications and, according to Dr Petitjean, the behaviour of these materials could be further studied for new uses, or new molecules could be added to the research already carried out.

Bibliographical references

→ Petitjean, M.; Lamberto, N., Zornoza, A., Isasi, J.R. "Green synthesis and chemometric characterization of hydrophobic xanthan matrices: interactions
with phenolic compounds", Carbohydrate Polymers, 288, 119387 (2022).

→ Petitjean, M.; Isasi, J.R. "Polysaccharide / β-cyclodextrin / citric acid ternary matrices as green sorbents of aromatic compounds", International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 180, 570-577 (2021).