Introduction: Challenges and Opportunities in Building a Multinational, Interdisciplinary Research and Education Network on Polysaccharides
Polysaccharides represent by far the largest group of polymers produced in the world. Fully biodegradable, they are made by nature. They are the major source of carbon, on which our life and activities are based. Carbohydrates are the result of photosynthetic CO2 fixation in plants and the central exchange and communication system between organisms. Polymeric carbohydrates (or polysaccharides) such as cellulose and chitin are natural polymers found abundantly in nature as structural building blocks. Other polysaccharides (starch, inulin) provide stored solar energy in the form of sugar for fuelling cells. Oil, gas and coal, made of (very) slowly modified biomass, have been cleverly used by humans to be a major energy source as well as a source of materials. Several factors are pushing for the use of the renewable biomass, i.e. the one that can be harvested in fields and forests. The first is the fact that 1 day or another, oil, gas and coal will be exhausted. Even before this time, the costs of exploitation will be higher and higher due to the fact that all easy-to-extract fossil biomass have been collected. The second is the push for preventing to send in the atmosphere the carbon present in fossil resources. A third driver for the use of renewable biomass is the more and more acute awareness of citizens about environmental issues that is influencing marketing departments of companies.
KeywordsBamboo Fibre Renewable Biomass Collaborative Research Activity Structural Building Block European Technology Platform
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