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Maxwell Centre

Event Type: 
Core programme events

From Discovery Science to Industrial Applications

                                                              Making Plastics fantastic (again!)

by Prof James Elliott

Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy

Plastics are one of the defining materials of our age, from clothing and packaging to vehicles and construction, and it would be hard to imagine modern living without them. However, the insatiable growth in their use together with the problems of disposal have given plastics a bad name in recent years. In this talk, I will outline our plan to rehabilitate the reputation of plastics, and address some of the major problems related to their production and recovery after use. This work is part of a project entitled "Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging from Plants" which aims to supplant the widespread use of fossil-derived plastics with materials made from naturally derived sources, such as wood (cellulose) and plants (sugars). These materials will degrade more easily in the natural environment, and result in no additional carbon being returned to the biosphere. By assessing the impact of switching to cellulose and plant-derived sugars, and making better use of waste products from food and forestry industries, we will explore the trade-offs between the benefits of plastic packaging and the impacts of its production and disposal.


About the Speaker

James Elliott is Joint Head of the Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy and Professor of Macromolecular Materials Science in the University of Cambridge. He leads an internationally recognized research group on polymeric membranes, carbon nanotube fibres and composite materials. As Principal Investigator on a NERC grant “S2UPPlant: Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging from Plants” he directs a team working on the production and characterisation of biocompostable films based on cellulosic materials for plastic packaging. He also sits on the Executive Committee of the IoP Polymer Physics Group and is the Director of the EPSRC CDT in Computational Methods for Materials Science.



4.30pm: Registration over coffee

5.00pm: Talk, followed by Q&A with Prof James Elliott

6.00pm: Networking over a glass of wine / juice

6.30pm: Event closes

These events are run termly by the Maxwell Centre and Cambridge Network and are aimed at an industrial audience to highlight cutting edge research with industrial application in the not so distant future.



Thursday, 26 May, 2022 - 17:00 to 18:30
Event location: 
Maxwell Centre (in person)