Chemical modification and conversion of the renewable biopolymers cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin into novel value-added products is the main research focus the group “Biomaterials Chemistry".
Non-energetic utilization of lignin encompasses projects such as the conversion of technical lignins or ligneous raw materials into environmentally friendly humus substitutes or water-storing hydrogels which can be used for large-scale rehabilitation of degraded soils. Chemical activitation and fixation of carbon dioxide by different systems, among them lignoid structures and quinones, is also studied. Our research in the field of cellulose modification is dedicated to the synthesis of ultra light-weight cellulose aerogels and intelligent cellulosic fibers, i.e. highly specialized fibers having peculiar properties or showing unconventional effects. Also novel nano-structured materials based on hemicelluloses are being developed. Advanced techniques in chemical engineering such as supercritical drying, ultrasonic activation or micro-wave-mediated derivatization are employed. For a better understanding of the reaction behaviour of the biopolymers, most developments are accompanied by basic research using appropriate model compounds. Methods of solid-state analysis and material testing are available directly in our group (solid-state NMR, pyrolysis-GC-MS) or through cooperation, and are heavily employed to combine chemical with advanced solid-state characterization.