BIOMATERIALS DEPARTMENT

RESEARCH LINES

SCOPE OF WORK

The scope of work of the Biomaterials Department is the development of biobased materials. We seek to add value to forest and agricultural biomass by-products, through technologies that impact different industrial sectors of the national economy.

A first line of work is the development of compostable plastic materials to be applied in the packaging, agricultural, forest and commercial sectors. We offer sustainable solutions to companies and final consumers in order to reduce the environmental impact of fossil plastics, due to their slow degradation. The above in a scenario where citizens are increasingly aware of the effect generated by the accumulation of plastics in land and marine environments, and in which new regulations arise restricting their use, both in Chile and abroad. In this context, we develop biodegradable/compostable plastics. Thus, we use thermoplastic starch, polylactic acid (PLA) and cellulose acetate; organic fillers such as algae, cellulose fibers and microfibrils, and different types of additives and compatibilizers. We apply the bioplastics for the manufacture of food packaging (flexible mono and multilayer containers, thermoformed containers), mainly for export fruit; inputs for the agricultural sector (mulch, fasteners and graft holders) and products for trade (bags, injected and blown products).

Another line of interest is the development of materials with active properties, such as antibacterial products with micro/nano copper particles for the medical sector (catheters and cannulas), and packaging with active properties for export fruit allowing food to preserve its quality during transport to destination markets. We have also developed materials with antifungal or low gas permeability properties.

In relation to lignocellulosic materials, we develop technology that allows the use of by-products from the forest and agricultural industry, transforming them into valuable products. Among the raw materials we use, bark, sawdust, spikes and cereal straw stand out. Regarding the conversion processes, we specialize in the fractionation of biomass using solvents, the extraction of secondary metabolites and the production of cellulose nanofibers; and in relation to the final products of interest, natural adhesive resins, industrial additives and thermal insulation panels stand out.

A new line of development is focused on elastomeric materials, in which we value recycled rubber, develop elastomeric products for the construction sector and obtain materials with high resistance to abrasive wear for mining applications.

Development of a biodegradable-compostable sleeve bag for the packing of fresh export grapes. Prototype of Regional Innovation, code 18PIRE-103440. Associated company, Zeaplast SpA. December 2018 – December 2019.

Design of a microbial fuel cell prototype based on nano-structured graphene, capable of treating wastewater and generating electrical energy in the process. Fondef IdeA, code ID18I10337. Associated companies, ESSBIO, Ion Solution. December 2018 – December 2020.

Development of double action biocide paint (antimicrobial and antifungal) based on diatomaceous earth and controlled release copper nanoparticles. CORFO – Technological Contracts for Innovation, code 18COTE-97886. Associated company, Maroal EIRL. December 2018 – December 2020.

Development of biodegradable packaging with active property for postharvest control of Botrytis cinerea during the export of Chilean table grape. Fondef IdeA, code ID18I10132. Associated companies, Imal Spa, Gesex S.A. December 2018 – December 2020.

Strengthening the research and innovation capacity of EST Ltda. in the Elastomers Area: “Development of rubber compounds with cellulose microstructures and nanoclays for products of the national mining industry”. PAI – Conicyt, code ISP I7818010002. Associated company, EST Ltda. December 2018 – December 2020.

Pine bark tannins: Production process to supply the adhesive resin and board industry in Chile. Corfo enablers of innovation for the regional SME, code 18HIBIO-103581. Associated company, EST Ltda. December 2018 – December 2019.

Antibacterial central intravenous catheter (CVC) as a method of prevention against nosocomial infections associated with the use of CVC. Corfo I+D, code 18IDAE-90529. Associated company, Sylex Ltda. November 2018 – November 2020.

Thermal treatment of wood. Prototype of Regional Innovation, code 18PIRE-103531. Associated company, EST Ltda. October 2018 – October 2019.

Biodegradable tableware made from husk of corn cobs and vine leaves. Corfo, code 18VIPM-92564. Associated company, Orgánica SpA. September 2018 – February 2019.

Attracting Advanced Human Capital Abroad (MEC) for the strengthening of R&D and teaching capacities in the in the scope of biobased polymers. Conicyt, PAI-MEC code MEC80170053. June 2018 – December 2019.

Manufacture and validation of artificial seeds of pinus radiata for clonal propagation in forest nurseries. Fondef IT code 17I0064, Associated companies, Forestal Mininco Ltda., Proyectos Plásticos EIRL. June 2018 – November 2020.

Development of elastomers with better mechanical and abrasive wear resistance properties, through reinforcement and control of vulcanization kinetics to be applied in the mining industry. Fondef Idea, code ID14-I-20437. Associated company, Busanc Technology SpA. April 2018 – April 2020.

Development of biodegradable clips for the union of grafts in horticultural species. CORFO, code 17ITE1-83668. Associated company, Induplast Ltda. February 2018 – March 2019.

Development of biodegradable packaging for automotive lubricants. CORFO, code 17ITE1-78820. Associated company, Total Chile S.A. January 2018 – April 2019.

Associative link for the development of a process to obtain high purity collagen from the by-products of the cuttlefish fishery. Corfo Technology Contracts, code 17CONTEC83617. Associated company, Sociedad Pesquera LANDES S.A. January 2018 – June 2019.

Validation and packaging of endotracheal tube technology to be used in the prevention of nosocomial pneumonia. Corfo, code 17ITE2-81240. Associated companies, Sylex Chile Ltda., Comercial Madeleine Margot Céspedes León E.I.R.L. December 2017 – December 2019.

Sustainable insulating thermal panel from Eucalyptus SP bark. Fondef Idea, code ID14I10081. Partner companies, Módulos Wewfe; EST Ltda. December 2017 – December 2019.

Development of eco-friendly adhesive resins with low ecological footprint for the board industry. Corfo Technology Contracts, code 17CONTEC-83018. Associated company, Resinas del Bío Bío Ltda. December 2017 – December 2019.

Development of load and vibration absorbing plate from recycled rubber. Corfo, code 17IPPBIO-76189. Associated company, RUBTEC SPA. October 2017 – October 2018.

Production and validation of biodegradable active packaging for climacteric export fruits. Stage 1 Fondef, code IT16-i-10064. Associated companies, Campofrut Ltda., Induplast Ltda. June 2017 – June 2019.

New agro-forestry tool for the use, accumulation and controlled release of water in fruit and forest plantations. FIA, code PYT- 2017 -0254. Associated companies, Quirifores, Cristian Cortez E.I.R.L. April 2017 – April 2018.

Cellulose Nano Fibers (NFC) with modified polarity. Code 2015R536. Fundación COPEC. May 2016 – July 2018.

Technology for the production of materials with thermal and acoustic insulation capability incorporating infrared attenuating agents. Fondef Idea, code ID15I10379. Associated company, CMPC. December 2015 – December 2017.

Development of a sunscreen prototype based on core-shell nanostructures of ZnO-CeO2 and CeO2-ZnO for skin care. Fondef Idea, code ID15I10500. Associated company, Laboratorio Pasteur S.A. December 2015-December 2017.

Biodegradable products made from macroalgal biomass, their application and technical-economic validation for the agricultural sector. Innova Chile, code 15VEIID-45697. Associated companies, INDUPLAS Ltda., Solquim Ltda., Terranatur Ltda. November 2015 – May 2018.

Industrial papers of high mechanical performance reinforced with cellulose nanofibres. Innova Chile, code 15 VEIID-45654. Associated companies, Forestal y Papelera Concepción, Cartones San Fernando. November 2015 – November 2017.

Development of reconstituted materials from slate stone waste and their application in new construction products. Innova Chile, code 15IPPID-45667. Associated company, Piedras del Sur. October 2015 – October 2017.

Improvement of the adhesion properties in MDF boards through the partial removal of extractables and carbohydrates in radiata pine chips. Direct Project of the Company. Associated company, Bioforest S.A. June 2015 – June 2016.

Development of elastomers with better mechanical and abrasive wear resistance properties, through reinforcement and control of vulcanization kinetics to be applied in the mining industry. Fondef Idea, code ID14-I-10437. Associated company, Busanc Technology SpA. March 2015 – March 2017.

HEAD OF DEPARTMENT

Álvaro Maldonado, Head of Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1814

Lines of research:

  • Extrusion and injection of wood-plastic composites.
  • Biodegradable plastics for various industrial applications.
  • Thermoplastic nanocomposites with active properties.

publications

PRINCIPAL RESEARCHERS

Prof. Dietrich von Baer, Principal Researcher, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 220 3749

publications

Dr. Alex Berg, Principal Researcher, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1811

Lines of research:

  • Delignification processes in acetic acid medium.
  • Extraction and use of polyphenols (tannins) from pine bark.
  • Design and development of technologies associated with forest biorefineries.

More info

ASSOCIATE RESEARCHERS

Prof. Carola Vergara, Associate Researcher, Biomaterials Department

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Prof. Claudia Mardones, Associate Researcher, Biomaterials Department

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Prof. José Becerra, Associate Researcher, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 220 7475

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Prof. Miguel Angel Pereira, Associate Researcher, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1013

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Dr. Andy Pérez, Associate Researcher, Biomaterials Department

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Dra. Claudia Pérez, Associate Researcher, Biomaterials Department

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Prof. Carolina Gómez, Associate Researcher, Biomaterials Department

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Prof. Edgar Pastene, Associate Researcher, Biomaterials Department

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Prof. Ramalinga Mangalaraja, Associate Researcher, Biomaterials Department

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Dr. Saddys Rodríguez, Associate Researcher, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 220 1216

Lines of research:

  • Biodegradable polymer nanocomposites.
  • Synthetic polymeric nanocomposites with medical applications.
  • Films based on natural polymers and active plant extracts with sleep-cosmetic applications.
  • Essential micronutrients encapsulated in natural polymers to be used as dietary supplements.

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Prof. Manuel Meléndrez, Associate Researcher, Biomaterials Department

Prof. Mauricio Pradena, Associate Researcher, Biomaterials Department

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Prof. Miquel Martorell, Associate Researcher, Biomaterials Department

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Prof. Vicente Hernández, Associate Researcher, Biomaterials Department

RESEARCHERS AND ENGINEERS

Dr. Gustavo Cabrera, Researcher, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1819

Dra. Cecilia Fuentealba, Project Engineer, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1805

Líneas de investigación:

  • Wood technology.
  • Recovery of lignocellulosic by-products.
  • Commercially valuable chemical compounds from lignocellulosic biomass.

publications

Juan Carlos Carrasco Prado, Project Engineer, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1806

Lines of research:

  • Biodegradable compounds.
  • Biodegradable additives and masterbatch.
  • Biodegradable plastics with functional properties.

publications

Dr. Cristian Miranda, Project Engineer, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1818

Lines of research:

  • Thermoplastic nanocomposites.
  • Antimicrobial polymers.
  • Polymers with photocatalytic activity.

publications

Dr. Patricia Castaño, Project Engineer, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1867

Lines of research:

  • Elastomeric compounds with sustainable additives.
  • Recycled rubber from NFU composites with thermoplastics.

publications

Néstor Urra, Project Engineer, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1868

Lines of research:

  • Development of biomaterials from biodegradable resins.
  • Development of biodegradable products to be used in the forest industry.
  • Development of biodegradable materials to be used in the agricultural industry.

Catalina Castillo, Project Engineer, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1812

Felipe Sanhueza, Project Engineer, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1812

Débora Pino, Project Engineer, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1865

Carolina Olivari, Project Engineer, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1840

Lines of work:

  • Head of Pilot Plants, Biomaterials Department.
    • Transformation processes of thermoplastic materials, such as:
    • Extrusion or composite materials.
    • Blow extrusion.
    • Injection.

Felipe Guzmán, Project Engineer, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1903

Juan Cea, Project Engineer, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1839

José Fuentes, Project Engineer, Head of Pilot Plants, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1863

Lines of work:

  • Head of Pilot Plants, Biomaterials Department.
    • Design, construction and assembly of pilot plants.
    • Chemical process scaling.

Giovanni Ponce, Engineer, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1902

Sebastián Riquelme, Engineer, Biomaterials Department
 / +56 41 266 1823

Lines of work:

  • Identification and characterization of natural products by chromatographic techniques.
  • Implementation of analytical protocols.

publications

Ramón Tobosque, Support Engineer, Biomaterials Department

BIOENERGY DEPARTMENT

RESEARCH LINES

SCOPE OF WORK

Biomass is a renewable source with high potential for the production of chemical compounds, materials and energy. In recent decades, interest in developing technologies that allow efficient and sustainable use of residual biomass has gained worldwide relevance. Efforts have been focused on replacing not very efficient traditional energy use with high environmental impact with more efficient conversion routes that allow obtaining standardized biofuels and intermediate chemicals oriented to the chemical and materials industry, under the concept of biorefineries. 

The UDT Bioenergy Department carries out applied research and knowledge generation in thermochemical conversion processes of lignocellulosic biomass, agroindustrial organic waste and other waste, such as post-consumer plastics, out-of-use tires and sludges from water treatment plants. Specifically, we work in processes of fast pyrolysis, intermediate/slow pyrolysis, torrefaction, hydrothermal carbonization, gasification, catalytic systems and co-combustion of biomass and coal. Another area of work of the Bioenergy Department are thermal energy storage systems with phase change materials for heating applications that allow efficient use of solar energy.  

In 2018, the Hyb&Car Hybrid and Carbon Materials Group was created, whose objective is to develop nanostructured and multifunctional materials to be applied in clean energy generation, environmental remediation and electrical energy storage. In particular, we work on catalysts based on biomass-derived coals, development of nanoporous carbons for electric supercapacitors, nanostructured and multifunctional hybrid materials for solar cells, and photocatalysts for the production of solar fuels and chemical compounds, among others. 

In addition to the research work, the Bioenergy group makes increasing efforts to transfer knowledge and reach the market with R&D technologies and products. In this sense, we have implemented different pilot plants in order to carry out demonstrative tests and publicize the potential of the technologies developed in UDT. Specifically, we built a 20 kg/h slow pyrolysis rotary reactor for the demonstrative production of biochar and bio-oil, we put into operation a demonstrative residual plastic pyrolysis plant for the production of paraffin waxes and diesel fuel, and we implemented a modular CPC photoreactor was built for photocatalytic water treatment. 

During the last years, we have made important advances in the scaling of processes, the generation of scientific and technological knowledge, the expansion of our collaboration network with national and international researchers and the strengthening of work with companies and public entities. 

Sustainable production of graphite-based materials for application as electrical supercapacitors: supergraf. Fondef IDeA, code 19i10003. Associated Companies, CMPC Celulosa S.A. y ELECSUR E.I.R.L. Recently adjudicated.

Eco-friendly production of charcoal briquettes with innovative features from forest by-products. Innova Región, code 19IRB–111937. Beneficiary Company, Compañía Eléctrica Santa Juana Limitada. Recently adjudicated.

Innovative solution for the valorization of residues from the olive oil industry: Development of activated carbons and biofuel. FIA, code PYT2019-0158. Associated Company, Terramater S.A., September 2019 – September 2021.

Recovery of carbon black recovered from tyre pyrolysis. Corfo Crea y Valida I+D Colaborativo, code 19CVC-107339. Beneficiary Company, Bionergía SpA. June2019 – May 2022.

Nanostructured and Multifunctional Photocatalysts for the Production of Solar Fuels and Chemicals. Dr. Juan Matos. Fondecyt Regular, code 1190591. April 2019 – March 2022.

Development of phase change materials for low temperature thermal energy storage. Fondef IDeA, code 15i20496. Associated company, Quimtec S.A. March 2019-March 2020.

Development of last generation thin layer solar cells based on carbon doped semiconductors. Stage 2, Fondef Idea, code ID15I20321. Associated company, Tesla Energy. December 2018 – December 2020.

Thermochemical valorization of agro-industrial residues for energy generation in heat machine. Proyecto Conicyt Chile en conjunto con FAPESP Sao Paulo Brazil, código Conicty-Fapesp 2018/08419-4. Entidad colaboradora: Universidade Estadual Paulista “Julio de Mesquita Filho” (UNESP). Diciembre 2018-diciembre 2021.

Franco-Chilean Network on Biochars valorization for Energy Production and Environmental Remediation (BIOCval2E). PCI-Conicyt, code REDES170004. December 2017–June 2020.

Advanced materials for catalytic upgrading of biomass-derived syngas: Focus on sustainable energy production. Proyectos Conicyt Chile en conjunto con BMBF Alemania, código BMBF150029. Entidad colaboradora Instituto Fraunhofer UMSICHT-Alemania. Octubre 2016-Octubre 2019.

Protective additives for wood coatings from pine bark bio-oil. Corfo Crea y Valida I+D+i empresarial, code 19CVID-107445. Beneficiary Company, EST Ltda. June2019 – May 2022.

Research network on thermochemical conversion of biomass between The Technological Development Unit and The Institute of Chemical and Energy Engineering of BOKU. PCI-CONICYT, code REDES150080. Together with BOKU University. May 2016 – November 2017.

Small-scale CHP generation: Catalytic improvement of biomass gasification products. Fondef Idea, code ID15I10132. Associated company, Neumann. December 2015 – December 2017.

Development of phase change materials for thermal storage of energy at low temperature. Fondef Idea, code ID15I10496. Associated company, Quimtec Ltda. December 2015 – December 2017.

Use of microcellulose-derived carbon aerogels as catalysts for tars and ammonia decomposition. Dr. Luis Artega. Fondecyt Iniciación, code 11150148 Luis Arteaga. July 2015-August 2018.

HEAD OF DEPARTMENT

Dr. Cristina Segura, Head of Bioenergy Department
 / +56 41 266 1804

Lines of research:

  • Thermochemical processes of biomass conversion.
  • Energy densification of biomass.
  • Biocrude production as petroleum substitute.

publications

PRINCIPAL RESEARCHERS

Prof. Alfredo Gordon, Principal Researcher, Bioenergy Department
 / +56 41 220 4534

Lines of research:

  • Coal and biomass conversion processes.
  • Heterogeneous catalysis applied to energy conversion processes and pollution mitigation.

publications

Prof. Igor Wilkomirsky, Principal Researcher, Bioenergy Department
 / +56 41 220 7047

Lines of research:

  • Design of chemical and metallurgical reactors.
  • Process design.
  • Process kinetics.

publications

Prof. Claudio Zaror, Principal Researcher, Bioenergy Department
 / +56 41 220 3659

Lines of research:

  • Advanced electrooxidation of effluents.
  • Modeling of bioprocesses.
  • Life cycle assessment of processes and products.
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Dr. Luis Arteaga, Principal Researcher, Bioenergy Department

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ASSOCIATE RESEARCHERS

Prof. Alejandro Karelovic, Associate Researcher, Bioenergy Department

publications

Prof. Romel Jiménez, Associate Researcher, Bioenergy Department
 / +56 41 220 4534

Lines of research:

  • Heterogeneous Catalysis.
  • Kinetics of Chemical Reactions.
  • Combustion and Gasification.

publications

Prof. Néstor Escalona, Associate Researcher, Bioenergy Department
 / +56 41 220 4324

publications

Dr. Catherine Tessini, Department of Chemistry of the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Associate Investigator, Bioenergy Department
 / +56 32 265 4521

Lines of research:

  • Characterization of pyrolytic liquids.
  • Development of analytical methodologies applied to biofuels.

publications

Prof. Ljubisa Radovic, Associate Researcher, Bioenergy Department
 / +56 41 220 3654

Lines of research:

  • Properties and applications of carbonaceous (bio)materials.
  • Sustainable use of fossil fuels.
  • Surface chemistry of graphenes.

more info

Dr. Yannay Casas, Associate Researcher, Bioenergy Department

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Prof. Daniel Travieso, Associate Researcher, Bioenergy Department

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Dr. Marion Carrier, Associate Researcher, Bioenergy Department

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RESEARCHERS AND ENGINEERS

Dr. Mauricio Flores, Project Engineer, Bioenergy Department
 / +56 41 266 1832

Lines of research:

  • Combustion and co-combustion of biomass.
  • Biomass energy densification.
publications

Dr. Po Shan Poon, Project Engineer, Hybrid and Carbon Materials Group, Bioenergy Department
 / +56 41 266 1905

publications

Niels Müller, Project Engineer, Bioenergy Department
 / +56 41 266 1833

Lines of research:

  • Fast pyrolysis of biomass.
  • Upgrading of bio-oil.
publications

Héctor Grandón, Project Engineer, Bioenergy Department
 / +56 41 266 1848

Lines of research:

  • Head of Bioenergy Pilot Plants.
  • Scaling of Thermochemical Processes.

Víctor Ferrer, Engineer, Bioenergy Department
/ +56 41 266 1810

TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT

Nowadays, companies need to innovate in order to increase their competitiveness in markets that are particularly dynamic. UDT has developed skills that allow us to offer technological solutions to specific problems or needs of companies. Thus, we have our own capacities and knowledge and/or arising from alliances with national and foreign institutions and companies, which allow us to be a strategic partner of the business sector.

In this context, our competencies are oriented to: