Scientists from Bath’s Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies have made a sustainable polymer using the second most abundant sugar in nature, xylose.
Not only does the new nature-inspired material reduce reliance on crude oil products, but its properties can also be easily controlled to make the material flexible or crystalline.
The researchers, from the University’s Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies, report the polymer, from the polyether family, has a variety of applications, including as a building block for polyurethane, usage in mattresses and shoe soles; as a bio-derived alternative to polyethylene glycol, a chemical widely used in bio-medicine; or to polyethylene oxide, sometimes used as electrolyte in batteries.
The team says additional functionality could be added to this versatile polymer by binding other chemical groups such as fluorescent probes or dyes to the sugar molecule, for biological or chemical sensing applications.
The team can easily produce hundreds of grams of the material and anticipate that production would be rapidly scalable. (Read more)