WOOD K plus – Wood Material Technologies Tulln
BOKU – University of Natural Resources and Life Science, Dept. of Materials Science and Process Engineering in cooperation with Dept. of Chemistry
Five positions in renewable materials science for doctoral students to be filled between October 2017 and January 2018
Thesis topic 1
New high-strength lignocellulosic composite materials
Even though potentially very strong and stiff, nanocellulose-based composites still fail to deliver in terms of mechanical performance due to several reasons, one of them being lack of preferred orientation. We will develop a new procedure to produce high-density aligned nanocellulosic structures based on partial delignification and polymer impregnation of matchstick-size specimens. The major tasks of the project will consist in delignification trials using and ethanol-water (Organosolv) approach, choosing suitable water-soluble polymer systems as binders, composite manufacture and finally structural and mechanical characterization of lab-scale composites.
Thesis topic 2
Functional wood surfaces
Wood provides optically pleasant surfaces in furniture and flooring, however, in some applications it suffers from poor color stability and lack of water repellency, among others. In order to significantly improve the performance of wood surfaces and the competitiveness of wood with non-wood materials, we will provide wood with new functionality e.g. hydrophobicity, stable color, antimicrobial activity, etc. by means of novel chemical modification approaches involving also inorganic nanoparticles.
Thesis topic 3
Porous materials from lignocellulosic biomass
One of the major advantages of wood compared to competing materials lies in its high mechanical performance at low weight. Within this project, new pathways to isotropic porous materials from fibrous lignocellulose (MFC) and/or lignin will be explored. Depending on the density obtained, materials will be studied with regard to their potential as low-weight core layers in sandwich constructions or with regard to novel high-performance bio-based thermal insulation materials.
Thesis topic 4
Protein-derived bio-based wood adhesives
Wood based materials such as particle boards, MDF, OSB, plywood represent by far the most important adhesive consumers and are currently bonded mainly with urea formaldehyde based adhesives. There is a continuous strive to reduce the application of chemicals based on fossil resources. The goal of this project is to develop alternative adhesive systems based on non-food proteins or side streams from agriculture available in considerable amounts in Europe.
Thesis topic 5
Formaldehyde-free wood adhesives
Due to recent formaldehyde reclassifications a theoretical complete ban of it would result in a lack of suitable adhesive systems. The aim of this project is to identify highly reactive crosslinkers for the synthesis of formaldehyde-free adhesives. These have to be able to cope with the needs of a large scale industry sector in terms of availability, reactivity and economic efficiency.
Suitable candidates for either of these topics should ideally bring individual or combinations of skills in polymer processing, chemistry, materials science, bio-based materials, or related fields.
Good skills in English language, both spoken and written, are essential.
Successful candidates will work within a highly motivated group at the interface of chemistry and materials and enjoy top-ranking academic supervision by the scientific team consisting of:
Dr. Christian Hansmann, Dr. Erik van Herwijnen (WOOD K plus)
Prof. Wolfgang Gindl-Altmutter, Prof. Johannes Konnerth, Prof. Thomas Rosenau (BOKU Dept. Materials Science and Dept. Chemistry)