Robert Bosch Junior Professorship

Dr. Pieter Samyn

Using Nanotechnology to Utilize Waste

Stuttgart - Everyday we write on paper, put diapers on our babies, and apply gauze bandages to our wounds. To make all of these products, the industry needs pulp, 90 percent of which is made from wood. During the manufacturing process, a viscous, dark mass called “black liquor” is created, which up until now has usually been disposed of as waste. However, this substance contains a promising source of energy: biopolymers.

One Million Euros for Research Project

As Robert Bosch Junior Professor 2011, materials engineer Dr. Pieter Samyn has a budget of one million euros at his disposal for a period of five years. The goal of his reseach is to use nanotechnology to allow the components of black liquor to be reused in the pulp and paper manufacturing process.

Derived from the Greek word “nanos” (which means “dwarf”), nanotechnology goes down into the smallest detail: Pieter Samyn wants to extract the tiny biopolymers from the black liquor and change their surface, which would allow them to be used much more efficiently than they have been up until now. Hopefully the findings from Dr. Samyn’s research group at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg will lead to more sustainable methods of conducting business in the expanding global paper industry. Over the long term, Dr. Samyn expects that biopolymers will also be able to be used in the production of other materials such as plastics.

(Michael Herm, March 2011)

Picture Gallery

Photos: Th. Körner
Professor Sir Brian Hoskins calls for appropriate measures to be taken as a result of climate change and other man-made environmental changes: “We know enough in order to take action.”
Professor Dr. Jürgen Bauhus, Dean of the Faculty of Forest and Environmental Sciences of the University of Freiburg, with a gift for the award winner
Award winner Dr. Pieter Samyn with presenter Dr. Christof Bosch and Dr. Ingrid Wünning Tschol, Head of the Health and Science Department
From left to right: Dr. Kurt Liedtke (Chairman of the Robert Bosch Stiftung’s Board of Trustees), Dr. Christof Bosch, Dr. Pieter Samyn, Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer (President of the University of Freiburg), speakers Professor Sir Brian Hoskins and Dieter Berg (Chairman of the Robert Bosch Stiftung’s Board of Management)
The Robert Bosch Junior Professorship 2011 was awarded in front of invited guests at the former residence of the Stiftung’s founder
Professor Dr. Schiewer, President of the University of Freiburg, speaking with Dieter Berg, Chairman of the Robert Bosch Stiftung’s Board of Management
Lively discussions at the reception following the ceremony

Short Profile

Dr. Samyn, born in Belgium in 1978, studied Materials Science at the University of Ghent, and completed his dissertation in engineering in 2007. The focus of his research is on the extraction of natural polymers from the paper industry’s waste products as well as their potential uses. His own research group at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg works on a groundbreaking interdisciplinary topic at the crossroads of chemistry, nanotechnology, and engineering.
In 2012 Pieter Samyn was awarded one of the most prestigious prizes for young researchers in Germany, the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz-Prize of the German Research Foundation and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.