WP2: Research projects and knowledge transfer

A central aim of FORGREENSOFT is to boost research activities of FORTH in Green Soft Matter science by utilizing targeted research feasibility projects on: a) biomass biorefinery, functionalization and processing and b) advanced characterization and simulation techniques

Description of work

Activities in this WP involve the core of the research effort to be undertaken in FORGreenSoft, designed to boost the capacity of the Host Institute in Green Soft Matter through an intensive transfer of knowledge from the Advanced Partners. First, the three research directions (synthesis, advanced characterization and simulations) will be developed in parallel (Tasks 1, 2, 3) aiming to achieve a similar high level of expertise, while in Task 5 all knowledge will be merged to tackle two study cases (antibacterial coatings and membranes for water desalination).

Task 1: Biomass processing, isolation and functionalization of bio-based components (MPG-C/FORTH): MPG-C will transfer the knowledge to FORTH, via two-way visits, on the biorefinery processes of wood waste (giving preference to locally available olive tree wood), the isolation of the individual building blocks (CNCs, CNFs, hemicelluloses and lignin), and their chemical functionalization to obtain the feedstock for the coating and membrane applications (D2.1)

Task 2: Progress in advanced characterization (UNIVIE) :

2.1 Advancing optical microscopy capacities (UNIVIE/FORTH): DDM, developed at UNIVIE, will be implemented in FORTH through two-way visits and the work of a technician and PhD student in FORTH. Beyond being applied as a sizing and characterization technique to the case of nanocolloids, polymers and their mixtures, DDM will also be coupled with rheology setups, to probe the microscopic rearrangements within soft materials under controlled mechanical stress. (D2.4).

2.2 Advancing AFM and other near field microscopy capacities (MPG-P/FORTH):  The AFM techniques (KPFM, Nano-IR), adapted to membranes and coatings characterization will be first developed in MPG-P and the knowledge will be transferred to FORTH through two-way visits (D2.5)

Task 3: Progressing simulation capacities targeted to green materials (MPG-P/UNIVIE/FORTH): The strong expertise of the computational group of FORTH on computational methods, will be enhanced by the world-renowned expertise of UNIVIE on theory and mesoscopic (multi-particle collision) simulations, as well as of MPG-P on multiscale modeling, free energy calculations and machine learning methods for complex soft matter systems. We will further target on developing new atomistic, moderate coarse-grained and mesoscopic models for specific green soft matter systems including carbohydrate, polysaccharides, lignin and cellulose-based ones. (D2.6 – D2.8)

Task 4: Case studies: green antibacterial coatings and sustainable antifouling membranes (All):

This task integrates our expected scientific advancement and research capacity improvement (Tasks 1, 2 and 3) on the investigation of two case studies, membranes and coatings.

4.1 Development of processing procedures to incorporate functionalized cellulose based extracts (CNFs, CNCs) lignin and hemicelluloses in the production of mechanically robust and self-cleaning/antibacterial coatings, (D2.3)

4.2 Compounding the bio-based ingredients to investigate the preparation of membranes for water desalination, (D2.2)

4.3 Investigation of the structure and the dynamics and rheology of the complex formulations, and the influence of flow on the orientation and alignment of the anisotropic colloids, for coatings and membrane processing

4.4 Provide a fundamental understanding of the behavior and the self-assembled nanostructures of bio-based molecules (such as CNFs and lignin) at the molecular level via atomistic and mesoscopic simulations.