The Academy Lecture

Wolfgang G. Glasser

Professor Emeritus of Wood Science, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA

Biobased Materials : The polymer and materials dimension of bioresources



The fractionation of lignified bioresources yields constitutive components, fibers and/or polymers, which offer opportunities for the development of biobased materials. The fibers and polymers can be useful for a wide variety of materials qualified to advance the goals of a sustainable carbohydrate economy. Biobased materials, in contrast to biofuels, require the application of polymer and materials science principles. This talk focuses on examples which highlight differences, similarities and synergies between synthetic and biobased polymers and composites. Opportunities for lignin utilization in a wide range of thermosetting and thermoplastic materials (polyblends) emerged with increasing control over solubility and (melt) flowability, properties which arose as a consequence of chemical modification. Heteropolysaccharides (« hemicelluloses ») are attractive for their abundance, but their isolation options in polymeric form have proved costly. In isolated form, heteropolysaccharides have the potential of finding uses in a variety of food and biodegradable materials applications. New solvents for cellulose have opened up avenues for the development of novel regenerates, such as hydrogels and high strength fibers; and of derivatives with targetable (thermal) properties. The inherent purpose of cellulose as strength-building polysaccharide in plant tissues is best utilized in composite materials where novel approaches to the formation of interphases with (natural) matrix polymers may potentially yield composites by biomimetics.

The Lecturer

Wolfgang G. Glasser is Professor emeritus of Wood Science at Virginia Tech, where he pursued a teaching/research career that began in 1971. He received all his degrees from the University of Hamburg in Germany, and he did post-doctoral work at the University of Washington in Seattle. He also spent multi-month sabbaticals in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Grenoble, France; Singapore; Kyoto, Japan; Toulouse, France; Gothenburg, Sweden; Guadalajara, Mexico; and Nancy, France.
Glasser researched many aspects of the chemistry of wood and wood components; he directed the studies of some 45 graduate students and post-doctoral research associates; and he was a member and panel chair of the original CORRIM study of the National Research Council (1974-76). He received the George Olmstead Award of API (the predecessor of AFPA) in 1974 with his wife Heidi; the IUFRO Scientific Achievement Award (1986); and the Anselme Payen Award of the Cellulose, Paper and Textile Division of the American Chemical Society (2000). He served the ACS Division in many capacities, incl. Program and Division chair; and he is Fellow of the ACS Division and of IAWS. At Virginia Tech he founded and directed the interdisciplinary Biobased Materials Center (1986-1992); and he served the College of Natural Resources as Research and Graduate Studies Associate Dean (1993-1998). He is author of >200 publications and 16 patents; editor of 4 monographs; editorial board member of J. Appl. Polym. Sci., Holzforschung, Cell. Chem. Tech., Wood Science; and editor-in-Chief of CELLULOSE. In retirement, he stays active with writing, consulting, tennis, golf, skiing, and entertaining his grand children. Dr. Glasser was elected a Fellow of the Academy in 1998.


Forest Products Society 61st International Convention
Monday, June 11 2007, 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Hilton Hotel / Knoxville Convention Center
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA