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Shaping and Transformation in the Engineering of Polysaccharides (STEP)
Start date: 01 Oct 2008, End date: 30 Sep 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Naturally occurring polysaccharides constitute the largest segment of all available polymers, and hence exhibit the greatest potential as renewable, sustainable, and eco-friendly replacements for man-made polymers derived from fossil-resources. That this potential remains untapped to a large degree is testament to the inherent challenges in converting polysaccharides from natural sources to forms more suited for human use. One of the major challenges in the conversion of polysaccharides is overcoming the non-covalent interactions that characterize polysaccharide structures and lead to significant restraints on their processability. The non-covalent interactions exert strong influence on polysaccharide conversion by restricting polymer dissolution in solvents, limiting thermal processability of polysaccharides, and dictating the feasibility and extent of polymer functionalization. The objective of the STEP-ITN is to gain fundamental understanding of the non-covalent interactions in polysaccharide structures and utilize the knowledge to develop ways and means of overcoming their influence on polysaccharide conversion processes. This concerted and coherent multi-disciplinary effort spanning diverse areas of specialization and an active participation of the industry sector will generate significant advances in the science and technology of polysaccharide conversion. An intimate involvement in all aspects of the collaboration (research, knowledge transfer, dissemination, coordination) along with an extensive program of training in a wide variety of fields will allow early-stage and early researchers to develop the technical proficiency and complementary skills required to make significant contributions to science and technology in their professional careers.
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