UMass professor wins grant for sugar-based plastics research

By Frank Antosiewicz
Correspondent

Published: August 7, 2014 11:34 am ET
Updated: August 7, 2014 11:37 am ET

Image By: University of Massachussachusetts at Lowell Margaret Sobkowicz-Kline, left, is exploring ways to improve plastics made from sugar cane and encouraging more women to become plastics engineers.

Related to this story

Topics Materials Public Policy Sustainability United States
Companies & Associations

A National Science Foundation Career Award is helping a University of Massachusetts at Lowell researcher explore ways to improve plastics made from the inedible portions of sugarcane and to help encourage more women to become plastics engineers.

Margaret Sobkowicz-Kline, an assistant professor in the UMass plastics engineering department, won a $400,000 five-year grant from NSF. The program recognizes top young university scholars who effectively integrate research into their teaching.

“Our objective is to find if blending bioplastics with other bioplastics — or even petroleum-based plastics — to see if we can improve the properties to make them more durable and adaptable,” said Sobkowicz-Kline in a phone interview.

She and her students have been extruding different bioplastics to find materials that work best in manufacturing. Sobkowicz-Kline said the goal is to cut use of conventional plastics derived from fossil fuels and to produce materials that can be used for textiles, packaging and for durable goods. They also could also be adapted for medical devices.

She said that the number of women in plastics and mechanical programs have been low, and “one of my objectives is to keep the pipeline open and to help make transitions easier.”

Sobkowicz-Kline, who joined the UMass faculty in 2011, said she got her first degree in chemical engineering. After working with the oil and gas industry, and with the municipal water treatment, she decided that “she wanted to make a difference in the environment.”

She earned her doctorate in chemical engineering at the Colorado School of Mines.

She has worked to become an expert in renewable plastics, nanocomposites and developing environmentally friendly manufacturing techniques. Her research interest also covers electroactive plastics which change shape or size when stimulated by electricity and can be used in the conversion of solar to electrical energy.


Comments

UMass professor wins grant for sugar-based plastics research

By Frank Antosiewicz
Correspondent

Published: August 7, 2014 11:34 am ET
Updated: August 7, 2014 11:37 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

US engineering plastics demand

April 20, 2015 2:29 pm ET

   More

Image

Ford moving forward in carbon fiber for 'high volume' use

April 17, 2015 10:21 am ET

Ford Motor Co. has signed a deal with a carbon-fiber manufacturer to jointly explore “high-volume” automotive uses for the lightweight...    More

Image

Force majeure declared at six European sites since mid-March

April 17, 2015 1:10 pm ET

At least six European resin makers have declared force majeure on polyethylene, polypropylene and related products since mid-March, leading to higher ...    More

Image

Executives step down from Star Thermoplastics

April 17, 2015 12:56 pm ET

Executives Randall Fortin and Larry Johnson no longer are with materials firm Star Thermoplastics Alloys & Rubbers Inc.    More

Image

Zoltek expanding CF capacity in Europe

April 17, 2015 10:12 am ET

Leading carbon fiber group Zoltek Corp. has signed a strategic agreement with the Hungarian government to expand its operation in northern Hungary, al...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 15, 2015 - September 17, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events