UGA New Materials Institute to lead 2 projects for NSF-funded CB2


UGA New Materials Institute to lead 2 projects for NSF-funded CB2

Logo for CB2

The UGA New Materials Institute will lead two projects selected for funding and research in 2020, as part of the Institute’s participation in the Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (CB2), a National Science Foundation Industry—University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC).

The projects are among nine selected by CB2’s Industry Advisory Board (IAB) for exploration in 2020. They are:

  • “Unlocking the Potential of Xylan-based Polymer Materials,” and,
  • “Investigation of the Enzymatic Degradability of Glycolic Urethane Linkages Using Chromophore Probes.”

The xylan project is a continuation of one selected and launched in 2019, during the Institute’s first year as a research site for CB2. The project is led by Breeanna Urbanowicz, an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, in the Franklin College of Arts & Sciences. Urbanowicz’s work focuses on the structure and function of plant carbohydrate active enzymes; she is based at the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center. Xylan exists in plants and is the third-most abundant biopolymer on Earth. Urbanowicz’s goal is to identify and catalogue properties in xylan which may be useful in creating bio-based polymers for materials and products.

The glycolic urethane project is led by Evan M. White, an assistant research scientist who directs the Institute’s Bioseniatic℠ Laboratory. Polyurethanes represent a diverse class of polymers that may be formulated into durable coatings, composites, adhesives, and foams which are found across many sectors, including packaging. This project focuses on developing faster screening assays to discover enzymatically degradable urethane chemistries which may be relevant to materials made with such chemical bonds, as well as other chemical bonds used in polyurethanes. Understanding the enzymatic deconstruction of polyurethanes may help in the development of completely compostable high-barrier, multilayer packaging.

A total of nine projects were selected by the IAB for funding in 2020. Three projects will be conducted by researchers at North Dakota State University, two at Iowa State University, and two at Washington State University. Together, the four universities comprise the research sites for CB2.

The UGA New Materials Institute’s participation as a research site for CB2 is supported by NSF Award #1841319.