Environmental engineering and the indoor environmentDevelopment in various areas of society focuses increasingly on the outdoor environment and how we can create an eco-friendly and sustainable society in the long term. Phenomena like eco-labelling, Agenda 21, self-assessments, recycling, etc. are direct consequences of this development.
The research of the Chemistry and Material Technology unit in these areas encompass, among other things, studies on material recycling, the development and application of methods for assessing biodegradability, the development of new materials, and application of chemical analysis methods to survey and solve problems within these areas. New initiatives are being launched to further develop microbiological know-how in this field (within the framework of Biolab), as well as by participation in the competence centre “Plastics for a Sustainable Society”.
Furthermore, studies of the indoor environment and its effects on human health and well-being are increasingly being reported. Allergies and hypersensitivity increase and we now know that even small concentrations of pollutant gases, vapours and airborne particles can be considered to be potential health hazards, which require knowledgeable and insightful analysis. The development of new knowledge on the relation between indoor air quality and health, and the study of indoor formation of fine airborne particles are also included in the work done in this field.
Examples of ongoing projects:
- Particles in the indoor environment (FORMAS). This three-year research project studies how fine and ultrafine particles are generated through chemical reactions at conditions relevant to indoor air. Participants besides SP are Chalmers University of Technology, IVL, and CIT Energy Management.
- PLUS (Plastics for a Sustainable Society) is a centre of excellence including Region Västra Götaland, Business Region Göteborg, Hydro, Borealis, Perstorp, Chalmers University of Technology, and SP. The centre hosts two ongoing projects: (i) development of low-migrating plasticisers in PVC, (ii) development of and research on PVC nanocomposites with nanoclays. A master’s thesis has been produced within the latter project.
- Polymeric nanocomposites (PNC). This project focuses on the development of polymeric nanocomposites, i. e. materials in which nanometric mineral particles are added to certain thermoplastics (mainly PVC, PE, PP and PA). The objective is to develop materials with considerably improved characteristics. The project is a collaboration between the polymer industry, the packaging industry, SIK, Chalmers University of Technology, and the University College of Borås.
- The wood composite project. Financed by VINNOVA, this project is headed by Mats Westin of SP Wood Technology and Wood Construction. The project aims at developing new wood-polymer composites (WPC). Durability, mechanical properties and biodegradability of WPCs are being studied.
- Redeposition of archaeological finds. The project was financed by the Conservation Foundation of Western Sweden (Stiftelsen Västsvensk Konservatorsateljé) with the objective of investigating how the redeposition environment affects the long-term properties of packaging materials, as well as the legibility of labelling materials. The three-year project is now terminated, and discussions are underway of a potential continuation.
- Biodegradable polyolefins. The objective is to develop biodegradable materials based on PE and PP. The research encompasses the study of the kinetics of the thermooxidative degradation processes in various compost environments. This is accomplished using various evaluation methods, such as mechanical testing, IR spectroscopy, ESCA, etc. The differences between degradation mechanisms in various environments are being surveyed.
- IT-based product labelling in meat cutting is a pre-study, financed by VINNOVA’s Research & Grow programme. The objective is to investigate the possibilities of developing a new product for simplified handling and improved traceability in meat cutting.
- Modern sustainable and functional sealing materials for dams and sluices, is a pre-study financed by VINNOVA’s Research & Grow programme. The aim is to investigate and survey the environmental impact of rubber-based sealing materials.