BIOdegradable PACKaging materials research group
Leader of the group – Dr hab. Ewa Olewnik-Kruszkowska, prof. UMK
The scientific activities of the team focus on:
- the formation of new materials based on biopolymers (including alginates, chitosan, and starch) and determining their physicochemical properties as a result of physical and chemical modification,
- designing and the study into properties of biodegradable packaging materials based on polylactide and cellulose derivatives with the addition of surfactants and natural compounds characterized by biocidal properties.
- obtaining active, edible polymer packaging enriched with natural antioxidants,
- determination of the functional properties of the new materials, important from the packaging and food industry point of view.
- understanding the mechanisms of biodegradation of polymers with incorporated biocidal substances in natural and anthropogenic environments
- study of the effect of biocomposites introduced into the environment on metabolic and enzymatic activity of microorganisms in the environment
- enzymatic analyses of biofilms formed on the surface of biopolymers
- development and improvement of microbiological preparations that accelerate polymer degradation
The scientific research focuses on developing novel, active food-packaging films formed:
- from chitosan (Ch) and different additives (phenolic acids and naturally derived extracts containing antioxidants). The mechanical properties (i.e., flexibility, strength) of these films are modified using classic plasticizers as well as a novel group of plasticizers: natural-based, biodegradable, and non-toxic deep eutectic solvents (DESs). The possible application of materials to extend the food shelf-life will be analysed based on the assessment of several physicochemical and functional properties.
- from polylactides and cellulose derivatives with the addition of surfactants and natural compounds characterized by biocidal properties. The mechanical, thermal, structural, antioxidant and storage properties of the obtained materials will be analysed.
Moreover, the aim of the project is to determine the biocidal activity of the polymers, and the cytotoxic and antioxidant activity. An important aspect is to test the biodegradability of polymers in natural and anthropogenic environments. Analyses include: determination of biological oxygen consumption by micro-organisms in the presence of polymers, the abundance, viability, enzymatic activity and biodiversity of the biofilm formed on the polymer surface. In order to accelerate the biodegradation process, bacteria will be isolated from the polymer surface for biochemical analysis and identification. The most active strains will be used to develop a formulation to aid polymer degradation and introduced into the environment.
Dr hab. Ewa Olewnik-Kruszkowska, prof. UMK – graduated from the Faculty of Chemistry of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, specialising in polymers. She completed her master’s thesis partly during the Erasmus-Socrates scholarship under the supervision of prof. Andre Larbot at the Institut Européen des Membranes in Montpellier (France). She received her PhD in chemistry in 2007. During the research for the doctoral dissertation, dr hab. Olewnik-Kruszkowska completed an internship at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris. Subsequent scientific internships were concluded in 2015 at the Blaise Pascal University – Clermont-Ferrand (France) and the University of Zaragoza in 2022 (Spain). Dr. hab. Ewa Olewnik-Kruszkowska was also a member of the “Polymer Materials” Team of the Materials Science Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences. In addition, so as to further her scientific career, she was the principal investigator of 4 grants, including the Sonata grant awarded by the National Science Centre. As the chief researcher she implemented the Grant of the Minister of National Defense in cooperation with the Naval Academy in Gdynia and was an assisting researcher in the grant of the National Center for Research and Development in the project entitled “BioDive Fin – innovative biomimetic swimming fins for civilian applications”.
Thanks to extensive cooperation with the industry, dr hab. Ewa Olewnik-Kruszkowska took part in the following programs: “NiP Knowledge Transfer Program – Science and Practice” and the Scientist Success Internship II edition organised by the Poznań Academic Incubator of Entrepreneurship. She co-implemented two Research Vouchers and two Innovation Vouchers for SMEs under the Smart Growth Operational Program 2014-2020.
Her scientific interests focus mainly on designing polymer composites based on dielectric elastomers, polyolefins and biodegradable polymers, modification of montmorillonite, as well as developing packaging materials with biocidal properties. In addition, her scientific works concern research into the progress of the decomposition processes in composite materials when exposed to various environmental factors.