A researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), is researching ways to create new materials for a greener environment by creating biopolymers from renewable resources such as plants, crustacean shells, or microorganisms.
Typically, such bio derived materials require high energy and material consumption, but researcher Yue Yuan has turned to additive manufacturing to reduce the energy and material usage.
“Such a material could reduce the cost and energy of post-combustion carbon dioxide capture operations without needing to redesign solvent-based gas scrubbers in power plants,” said Yuan..
The goal of her research is to create functional materials based on chemistry, by remaking renewable molecules with nanoscale features into sustainable materials. By using nature’s design and making these molecules better,
Yuan wants to provide engineers with scientific evidence to systematically improve the material processing and properties, and is working on characterization methods to clarify how bio derived materials can be processed using advanced manufacturing processes.
“We are trying to make use of molecules we harvest from nature or biowaste and make them more like a material that can be fabricated,” Yuan said.
“My research can fill the gap between fundamental discovery in bioscience and applied science in manufacturing.”
ORNL provides Yuan with a well-established synthetic polymer research capability to build her biopolymer research on. Yuan received her undergraduate degree in apparel engineering in China and a Ph.D. in fiber and polymer science from North Carolina State University.
She completed her dissertation focusing on challenges in global management of carbon dioxide emissions, specifically how a biocatalyst used with greener solvents could capture carbon.
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