Bioactive materials, elastomers and containers and packaging are the lines of research, in which 3 projects were awarded by UDT within the 2020 Fondef IDeA I+D contest, 2 as the main institution and 1 as an associate.

A natural anti-stain product for sawn wood, a reinforcing elastomeric material based on cellulose microfibers and a device that generates volatile compounds to prevent Botrytis in blueberries, are the three projects awarded by UDT in the 2020 Fondef IDeA I+D Contest. In the first two, UDT is the main executor and, in the third, it is the associated institution.

The Fondef IDeA I+D Contest supports the execution of scientific and technological research projects that have background supporting the application hypothesis of a technology, product or service and that achieve their validation through a prototype within a period of two years. In other words, the three proposals already have preliminary results that support the proposed technologies and that during the execution of the project will be transformed into functional prototypes.

The projects

Bioactive Materials Line: “Development of a natural anti-stain product for the sawn wood industry in Chile”. Director: Cecilia Fuentealba. Companies: Clariant, Forestal Collicura, PymeMad AG.

Wood is a renewable natural resource, susceptible to be attacked by biological agents such as fungi and insects. To protect the sawn wood, it is subjected to preservation processes such as drying, anti-stain baths and impregnation, being necessary in some of them, the use of highly toxic chemicals.

Previous research showed that eucalyptus bark extracts have chelating, antioxidant and antifungal activity with very low toxicity. Based on this, the project proposes to develop an antifungal product against staining fungi for sawn wood based on the combination of an extract of Eucalyptus globulus bark and Hinokitiol, a powerful natural antifungal, which currently exists as a commercial product, whose synergistic effects will allow to compete with traditional products and offer the market a biocide with low environmental impact. It should be noted that eucalyptus bark is currently a material little used for energy generation, due to its high ash content and low calorific value.

Elastomeric Materials Line: “Development of a high-performance elastomeric material, using ligno-cellulose microfibers as non-conventional reinforcing agent, originating from excess fines from the paper process to be used in the manufacture of industrial products”. Director: Miguel Pereira (Faculty of Engineering UdeC). Companies: RubberMix, FPC.

In the paper production process, the pulp is subjected to a mechanical refining treatment, which as a secondary effect causes the fibers to be cut and generates fine particles, whose excess is unwanted in the production process. On the other hand, carbon black and silica are the traditional reinforcers of rubber compounds, raw material of various products such as tires, conveyor belts, auto parts, etc. However, these conventional reinforcing additives are not renewable resources and their manufacturing processes are polluting.

The project proposes to value fines that originate during the papermaking process, through an enzymatic-mechanical treatment to obtain cellulose microfibers (MFC), which can be used as a reinforcing agent in rubber compounds. Previous studies show that it is possible to reduce by at least 50% the content of carbon black used in high performance rubber compounds.

Containers and Packaging Line: UDT participates as an associated institution in the project “Device to generate volatile compounds of bacterial origin to reduce the losses caused by Botrytis in blueberries: A sustainable alternative to reach distant markets”, presented by the Institute of Agricultural Research, INIA. Álvaro Maldonado and Juan Carlos Carrasco will participate in the work team. Companies: Quimas S.A., Bestberry Chile S.A, NiceBlue S.A., Agrícola Los Silos Ltda.

The blueberry industry seeks to reduce the incidence of Botrytis in postharvest conditions, which considers a period of up to 45 days of storage and transport to distant markets, without causing changes in the safety and characteristics that determine the quality of the fruit, such as appearance, texture and flavor. The initiative proposes to obtain a compostable biodegradable device, generator of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), to prevent Botrytis in blueberries. Previous research showed that harmless Pseudomonas sp. encapsulated are capable of releasing VOCs with antifungal activity in a prolonged and continuous manner, at low temperatures and high relative humidity.

These three projects will begin to develop during 2020 and have a period of 24 months for their execution. We congratulate our work teams for this achievement.