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Sustainable polymers from renewable resources

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      Cellulose: fascinating biopolymer and sustainable raw material.

      As the most important skeletal component in plants, the polysaccharide cellulose is an almost inexhaustible polymeric raw material with fascinating structure and properties. Formed by the repeated connection of D-glucose building blocks, the highly functionalized, linear stiff-chain homopolymer is characterized by its hydrophilicity, chirality, biodegradability, broad chemical modifying capacity, and its formation of versatile semicrystalline fiber morphologies. In view of the considerable increase in interdisciplinary cellulose research and product development over the past decade worldwide, this paper assembles the current knowledge in the structure and chemistry of cellulose, and in the development of innovative cellulose esters and ethers for coatings, films, membranes, building materials, drilling techniques, pharmaceuticals, and foodstuffs. New frontiers, including environmentally friendly cellulose fiber technologies, bacterial cellulose biomaterials, and in-vitro syntheses of cellulose are highlighted together with future aims, strategies, and perspectives of cellulose research and its applications.
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        Technology development for the production of biobased products from biorefinery carbohydrates—the US Department of Energy’s “Top 10” revisited

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          Self-healing and thermoreversible rubber from supramolecular assembly.

          Rubbers exhibit enormous extensibility up to several hundred per cent, compared with a few per cent for ordinary solids, and have the ability to recover their original shape and dimensions on release of stress. Rubber elasticity is a property of macromolecules that are either covalently cross-linked or connected in a network by physical associations such as small glassy or crystalline domains, ionic aggregates or multiple hydrogen bonds. Covalent cross-links or strong physical associations prevent flow and creep. Here we design and synthesize molecules that associate together to form both chains and cross-links via hydrogen bonds. The system shows recoverable extensibility up to several hundred per cent and little creep under load. In striking contrast to conventional cross-linked or thermoreversible rubbers made of macromolecules, these systems, when broken or cut, can be simply repaired by bringing together fractured surfaces to self-heal at room temperature. Repaired samples recuperate their enormous extensibility. The process of breaking and healing can be repeated many times. These materials can be easily processed, re-used and recycled. Their unique self-repairing properties, the simplicity of their synthesis, their availability from renewable resources and the low cost of raw ingredients (fatty acids and urea) bode well for future applications.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            Nature
            Nature
            Springer Nature
            0028-0836
            1476-4687
            December 14 2016
            December 14 2016
            : 540
            : 7633
            : 354-362
            10.1038/nature21001
            © 2016
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