Materials from renewable resources: new properties and functions

Abstract: Sustainable production requires increasing use of raw materials from renewable sources, processed under mild conditions with minimal effluent production. These requirements are satisfied by using materials derived from biomass, in synergy with food and energy production. The possibilities of biomass are continuously enlarged by new findings, as in the intrinsic nanocomposite properties of natural rubber and the amphiphile behavior of cellulose that translated into new functional materials, including high-performance, flexible and conductive non-metallic materials. Other findings are allowing a better understanding of electrostatic phenomena that play a positive role in electrostatic adhesion and cohesion of nanocomposites made from biomass products. Moreover, this should allow the development of safe electrostatic separation techniques, suitable for the fractionation of crude mixtures of biomass residues. A current study on rubber electrostatics is showing its capabilities as a transducer of mechanical energy while providing clues to understand the performance of the dielectric elastomers used in robotic self-sensing actuators.