University of the Philippines Los Baños
Thursday, 15 March 2018 14:40

French prof discusses nanocellulose technology in UPLB

nanocellulose technology

Dr. Alain Dufresne, a nanocellulose expert from Grenoble Institute of Technology in France, shared his expertise on nanocellulose technology to the scientific community during a seminar series on March 5-7 at the College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR), UPLB.

Nanocellulose, materials found in wood fibers, which Dr. Dufresne described as abundant, renewable, lightweight, and low cost, are considered helpful in developing materials that address the flaws and limitations of natural timber.

In the first two days of the seminar series, Dr. Dufresne presented different methods of deconstructing the woody plant cell wall to produce either cellulose nanocrystals or nanofibrils, the preparation of nanocomposite materials incorporated with nanocellulose having different morphologies, and the possibility to tailor the nanocellulose properties through controlled chemical modifications.

Dr. Ramon Razal, professor and former CFNR dean who invited Dr. Dufresne under the auspices of the UP World Expert Lecture Series Program, has been conducting nanocellulose research since 2014. His team initially conducted studies on extracting nanocellulose from Kawayan tinik, a native bamboo species in the country. “The purpose of converting bamboo to nanocellulose is to increase its value, thus creating more opportunities for farmers to earn income from the bamboo poles that they harvest,” Dr. Razal said.

“Different plant sources result in nanocellulose with different properties, such as in their aspect ratio. These properties can govern the potential applications of nanocellulose, which range from sensory devices, films, composites, and medical devices,” he added.

During the third day of the seminar, Dr. Dufresne discussed the history and structure of scientific literature relevant to nanocellulose. He also gave tips on scientific writing and introduced a list of journals and their impact factor that could help increase the scientific productivity of UPLB researchers.

“The ideas that we learned in this seminar are vital for the enhancement of the existing nanotechnology program of UPLB,” said Rosalie C. Mendoza, assistant professor, in her message on behalf of Dr. Willie P. Abasolo, CFNR dean. “In return, whatever we generate from our research studies and application in our nanotechnology projects will be translated into means and technologies that will uplift the lives of the Filipino people.”

The seminar series was hosted by the Department of Forest Products and Paper Science (DFPPS) of CFNR and was attended by staff, students, and faculty from various UPLB colleges with on-going nanotechnology studies, and by researchers and scientists from the Department of Science and Technology and the Ateneo de Manila University. The UP World Expert Lecture Series Program allows professors to invite world-renowned expert and share their knowledge in the Philippines.

Dr. Razal’s nanocellulose research is under the UPLB Nanotechnology Program that is being led by Dr. Milagros Peralta. Dr. Razal and his team have also done nanocellulose extraction and preparation from other forest-based plants such as fast-growing Philippine timber and Kapok. Another CFNR-DFPPS faculty member, Prof. Ronniel Manalo, is also involved in nanocellulose research on abaca.  (John Glen S. Sarol)