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Sugar as a raw material: the University of Groningen is ready

16 December 2014

The NOS broadcasting company recently reported that EUR 2 to 3 billion will be invested over the next few years in the use of sugar (for example from sugar beet) as a raw material for plastic. Various groups at the University of Groningen are researching green chemistry.

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The University already has plenty of experience in working with sugar. An important researcher in this area is microbiologist Lubbert Dijkhuizen , one of the driving forces behind the Carbohydrate Competence Center . This centre focuses on research into sustainable raw materials for chemistry and on new applications for carbohydrates. He previously told Science LinX about the sweet science that this produces.

You can also use sugar to make a coke bottle. Groningen scientists led by biochemist Marco Fraaije are researching how an enzyme process can be used to convert sugars into a polymer suitable for making plastic bottles.

The Institute for Technology and Management of the University of Groningen also does green chemistry. Professor Erik Heeres leads a research programme in Green Chemical Reaction Engineering , and one of his many fields of research is how to convert sugars into coke bottles. Professor Gert-Jan Euverink’s focus is Products and Processes for Biotechnology in the Biobased Economy . His work includes helping businesses with biobased research .

Heeres is also involved in converting biomass into useful raw materials for industry. This type of green chemistry is exactly what Katalin Barta ’s new research group wants to practise. Barta worked on a study that recently appeared in Nature Communications .

For those wanting to set to work with sugar at home, there is a way to make a ‘freaky carbon worm’ from sugar. It is not green, however!

Last modified:11 January 2021 11.15 a.m.
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