Research in Sustainable Materials Chemistry




I am a French student in 4th year of an Engineering degree in chemistry (1st year as a postgraduate student) at ESCOM (Ecole Supérieure de Chimie Organique et Minérale), a five-year engineering French school specializing in chemistry and chemical engineering. I carry out a summer placement in the Zoe’s group and I am very glad to take part of her researches.


During my internship, my project was focused on the possibility to use a polymeric precursor from biomass (like Agar and Chitin from crab shells) and Boric Acid as the starting compounds to make boron carbide B4C. Boron carbide can be produce by using only biopolymers powders or by using Biotemplating. Before find a simple synthesis route, the study of the structure of these biopolymers was primordial to understand the mechanism. Other analyses were essential to produce Boron carbide in the best possible conditions (Find the temperature of formation, etc.). The final goal was to demonstrate the ability to synthesis Boron Carbide from waste biomass to conclude my internship.


Boron Carbide has a leading role in high performance application due to its extreme hardness, low density, and high melting point, great resistance to chemical agents, excellent thermoelastic and thermoelectric properties and high corrosion and oxidation resistance. It has many high performance applications like nuclear and aerospace, catalysis, body and vehicle armour (to avoid blast injury which is a complex type of physical trauma from direct or indirect exposure to an explosion and which occurs with the detonation). I also try to make some graphitic nitride.


I discover a lot of amazing things during my placement. I worked with crab shells to extract chitin nanowhiskers; I used many machines that I had never seen in France like the Furnace, the SEM, the porosimeter, the diffractometer, the freeze dryer, etc. and I improve my English language gradually. Zoe gives me some responsibilities and independent work which are beneficial to learn more about the project, to gain skills and to use my knowledge. Personally, in addition to improve my English, I discovered a new culture and new habits in England.


In order to see the progress of this project, I will post some articles or nice photos in this page.



Chitin inside the crab shells after demeniralisation


Chitin inside the crab shells after demeniralisation

Chitin inside the crab shells after demineralisation

Chitin inside the crab shells after demeniralisation


Chitin inside the crab shells after demeniralisation


Crab shells demineralised, soaked in a satured Boric acid’s solution and then freeze dried