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Development of new characterization methods of woody biomass for a plastic-free society

【FOOD】 Nakaba Team

  • Overview

    Marine pollution caused by plastic waste is becoming more serious worldwide. We need to reduce the amount of plastic usage, and deplasticization has become an urgent global issue. As a solution of this problem, the use of renewable resources as an alternative material to plastics is attracting attention. Among renewable resources, woody biomass is not only biodegradable but also carbon-neutral, and is expected to be a next-generation clean energy source and a recyclable carbon resource. Our research team will develop characterization methods from multiple perspectives for the highly effective utilization of woody biomass.

  • Approaches

    With the promotion of a plastic-free society, it is predicted that the demand for renewable resources will increase in the future. In order to make advanced use of woody biomass in harmony with the environment, it is important to use various trees as raw materials. However, woody biomass has a variation in their chemical and physical properties because it is a biological material derived from trees. Therefore, quick, simple, and highly accurate characterization method is required to promote its effective utilization.

    In order to effectively utilize woody biomass, our research team will develop characterization methods from multiple perspectives. We will establish 1) new characterization method of woody biomass based on imaging, and, 2) new characterization method that combines image data and artificial intelligence.

    We aim to develop a characterization method from multiple perspectives, which will cover morphological information, chemical properties, and physical properties of woody biomass. The main body of woody biomass is the cell wall, which is composed of polymers such as cellulose. Woody biomass has hierarchical structures such as microstructure (e.g., molecular structure of constituents), cell wall structure (e.g., spatial distribution and orientation of constituents), and tissue structure (e.g., complex combination of various cells), and the structural properties at each scale produce the final material properties. Therefore, through the trans-scale imaging analysis from nanometer to millimeter, we will find the relationship between the characteristics at each scale and the chemical and physical
    properties, and construct a new characterization model.

  • Plan

    1) Development of a characterization method of woody biomass with imaging as a core technique
         We will conduct multi-scale imaging analysis, chemical property analysis by spectroscopic approach, and processing and physical property analysis for plastic substitute materials by material science approach. By integrating all the obtained information on the basis of imaging, the mechanism of material property expression will be clarified, and this will lead to the development of new characterization method. In particular, we will focus on analysis at the nanoscale.

    2) Development of a characterization method of woody biomass by combining image data and artificial intelligence
         By combining macro-scale image data and AI, we will clarify how much value of parameters, which are important in determining the characteristics of woody biomass such as elastic modulus, strength, density, water repellency, and content of components, can be estimated. In addition, we will develop a characterization method by analyzing various woody biomass.

Team Head

International Researcher(s)

Peter Kitin

Affiliation United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (U.S.A.)
Division / Department Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory
Position Scientist
URL

https://www.fpl.fs.usda.gov

Members

Yoshiki Horikawa  (Institute of Agriculture / Associate Professor)
Ryota Kose  (Institute of Agriculture / Associate Professor)

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