“Green chemistry” academician appears in the Chemistry World
Author:Fu Xiaoge and Jiang Aijing Date:Dec 8, 2016 Clicks:

Zhang Lina, professor at the School of Chemistry and Molecule Science of Wuhan University, member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was recently featured in an interview with the journal Chemistry World.

She solved the toughest problem about the poorest soluble biomass macromolecule, i.e., the dissolution of cellulose and chitin with the help of her original low-temperature water solvent recipe, which carves up a new path to utilize renewable wildlife resources. Her achievement caught the attention of chemistry societies in America and Britain. Previously, she was awarded the Anselme Payen Prize by the American Chemical Society, which is the most honorable award in the cellulose and renewable materials field all over the world.

On October 3rd, Chemistry World gave an intensive report on her research findings titled “Lina Zhang reflects on five decades as part of China’s green chemistry vanguard”.

Zhang Lina’s appearance in this journal’s column of profiles, which is a rare phenomenon among Chinese females, indicates her great contributions to green chemistry and her global influence in the field of polymer materials and polymer physics.

During the interview by Kit Chapman, vice editor of Chemistry World in late August, Zhang Lina shared her observations to explain why so much attention has been paid to green chemistry. From her perspective, green chemistry is the trend of scientific and technological development in the 21st century. She pointed out that China, as a developing country that takes a leading role in the agriculture industry, is responsible for utilizing renewable and environmentally friendly resources. Green chemistry is in accordance with the notion of “innovation” and “green” under the ‘five requirements for development’ put forward by the Fifth Plenary Session of the Eighteenth CPC Central Committee, so it can be widely applied. “I come to the deep realization that our oil and coal resources will be depleted someday and that we must start to utilize new alternative resources”

Zhang Lina has been devoting herself to the research of natural polymer materials and polymer physics. Graduating from WHU in 1963, she was then appointed to the China Academy of Railway Sciences to conduct research on natural rubber and synthetic plastics. After getting back to WHU in 1973, she and her husband, Du Yumin started research on a method to apply chitin and cellulose onto functional materials. Since her sponsorship by the Key Program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China in 2000, she, a 60-year-old lady, has exerted herself on researching cellulose dissolution and environmentally friendly material.

Cellulose is the most abundant renewable resource on the earth, but the dissolution of cellulose has always been a thorny task. Other countries mainly use organic solvents or heat to dissolve it under huge costs, high energy consumption and heavy pollution. As a leading agricultural country, China produces heaps of cellulose every year as part of the debris of agricultural, by-products and marine products. Based on this situation, Zhang shifted her attention to specifically target the transformation of these wastes into useful resources.

She invents the NaOH/urea aqueous solution that can dissolve cellulose at a low temperature. The technology, after dissolving cellulose, chitin, chitosan and polyamine, will create new materials which can be widely used, with advantages such as high dynamic, compatibility and safety. Its application makes it possible to recycle biomass wastes and better utilize renewable resources. Previously, poisonous cellulose-CS2/NaOH solution is what was used for cellulose dissolution, which will produce cellophane andrayon and cause environmental pollution. Differing from this traditional method, the NaOH/urea aqueous solution works better in keeping the balance between economic benefit and environmental protection.

Those materials, like plastic, with traditional manufacturing techniques will cause “white pollution” that can do harm to the sustainable development of the environment because it takes hundreds of years to degrade. While new type of materials created by the application of Zhang’s technology would be totally degraded buried in soil at 25 for one month.

“This technology not only adds value to agricultural and marine debris but also transform the agricultural wastes into industrial materials,  which lessens resource dissipation and environment pollution.“ Zhang Lina introduces.

This technology makes Zhang Lina the first Chinese recipient of the Anselme Payen Award over the past half century. “Green chemistry” made her so globally recognizable that some students across oceans hope to join her research team.

Upon visiting her lab, Glyn O. Phillips, former president of The University of Wales, left only with a remark full of praise, “It reminds me of my visit to the Nobel laureate, professor Woodwar’s lab. It impresses me that she is always passionate about knowledge and science and is concerned about the commercial and practical value of a scientific product.”

Zhang Lina points out that there is not so much connection between basic research and economic development. The primary criterion for a scientific product’s value is its contribution to the country and society so it should by no means end at its theoretical phase. Zhang suggests that the current national situation as a big agricultural country under economic development serve as the beacon for scientific research, which also coincides with the ideas of President Xi Jinping. Only by integrating basic research with economic development can scientific achievements better serve the people and the country.

In recent years, many experiments have been conducted to put the fruits of scientific research into practice in several places like Jiang Su province as well as Wuhan and Tangshan. However, Zhang regretfully expresses that the experiment is hindered by a wide range of problems including policy, environment, funding and transforming techniques. She hopes for government and corporate entities to pay more attention to “green chemistry” and boost to transform technology results.

“A real chemist should be devoted to exploring new scientific methods and creating new materials. Scientific challenges bring me endless passion and a sense of achievement, which has always motivated me to do research.” In the past decades, Zhang Lina has kept her passion for science and responsibility for her country in mind. Unlike her peers who are satisfied with their lives, she still strives to make one scientific breakthrough after another in order to make her contribution to the development of green chemistry.

 

Rewritten by Xiao Zhenlai

Edited by Jin Yiwen, Shen Yuxi, Hu Sijia, Edmund Wai Man Lai


Zhang Lina, professor at the School of Chemistry and Molecule Science of Wuhan University, member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was recently featured in an interview with the journal Chemistry World.

She solved the toughest problem about the poorest soluble biomass macromolecule, i.e., the dissolution of cellulose and chitin with the help of her original low-temperature water solvent recipe, which carves up a new path to utilize renewable wildlife resources. Her achievement caught the attention of chemistry societies in America and Britain. Previously, she was awarded the Anselme Payen Prize by the American Chemical Society, which is the most honorable award in the cellulose and renewable materials field all over the world.

On October 3rd, Chemistry World gave an intensive report on her research findings titled “Lina Zhang reflects on five decades as part of China’s green chemistry vanguard”.

Zhang Lina’s appearance in this journal’s column of profiles, which is a rare phenomenon among Chinese females, indicates her great contributions to green chemistry and her global influence in the field of polymer materials and polymer physics.

During the interview by Kit Chapman, vice editor of Chemistry World in late August, Zhang Lina shared her observations to explain why so much attention has been paid to green chemistry. From her perspective, green chemistry is the trend of scientific and technological development in the 21st century. She pointed out that China, as a developing country that takes a leading role in the agriculture industry, is responsible for utilizing renewable and environmentally friendly resources. Green chemistry is in accordance with the notion of “innovation” and “green” under the ‘five requirements for development’ put forward by the Fifth Plenary Session of the Eighteenth CPC Central Committee, so it can be widely applied. “I come to the deep realization that our oil and coal resources will be depleted someday and that we must start to utilize new alternative resources”

Zhang Lina has been devoting herself to the research of natural polymer materials and polymer physics. Graduating from WHU in 1963, she was then appointed to the China Academy of Railway Sciences to conduct research on natural rubber and synthetic plastics. After getting back to WHU in 1973, she and her husband, Du Yumin started research on a method to apply chitin and cellulose onto functional materials. Since her sponsorship by the Key Program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China in 2000, she, a 60-year-old lady, has exerted herself on researching cellulose dissolution and environmentally friendly material.

Cellulose is the most abundant renewable resource on the earth, but the dissolution of cellulose has always been a thorny task. Other countries mainly use organic solvents or heat to dissolve it under huge costs, high energy consumption and heavy pollution. As a leading agricultural country, China produces heaps of cellulose every year as part of the debris of agricultural, by-products and marine products. Based on this situation, Zhang shifted her attention to specifically target the transformation of these wastes into useful resources.

She invents the NaOH/urea aqueous solution that can dissolve cellulose at a low temperature. The technology, after dissolving cellulose, chitin, chitosan and polyamine, will create new materials which can be widely used, with advantages such as high dynamic, compatibility and safety. Its application makes it possible to recycle biomass wastes and better utilize renewable resources. Previously, poisonous cellulose-CS2/NaOH solution is what was used for cellulose dissolution, which will produce cellophane andrayon and cause environmental pollution. Differing from this traditional method, the NaOH/urea aqueous solution works better in keeping the balance between economic benefit and environmental protection.

Those materials, like plastic, with traditional manufacturing techniques will cause “white pollution” that can do harm to the sustainable development of the environment because it takes hundreds of years to degrade. While new type of materials created by the application of Zhang’s technology would be totally degraded buried in soil at 25 for one month.

“This technology not only adds value to agricultural and marine debris but also transform the agricultural wastes into industrial materials,  which lessens resource dissipation and environment pollution.“ Zhang Lina introduces.

This technology makes Zhang Lina the first Chinese recipient of the Anselme Payen Award over the past half century. “Green chemistry” made her so globally recognizable that some students across oceans hope to join her research team.

Upon visiting her lab, Glyn O. Phillips, former president of The University of Wales, left only with a remark full of praise, “It reminds me of my visit to the Nobel laureate, professor Woodwar’s lab. It impresses me that she is always passionate about knowledge and science and is concerned about the commercial and practical value of a scientific product.”

Zhang Lina points out that there is not so much connection between basic research and economic development. The primary criterion for a scientific product’s value is its contribution to the country and society so it should by no means end at its theoretical phase. Zhang suggests that the current national situation as a big agricultural country under economic development serve as the beacon for scientific research, which also coincides with the ideas of President Xi Jinping. Only by integrating basic research with economic development can scientific achievements better serve the people and the country.

In recent years, many experiments have been conducted to put the fruits of scientific research into practice in several places like Jiang Su province as well as Wuhan and Tangshan. However, Zhang regretfully expresses that the experiment is hindered by a wide range of problems including policy, environment, funding and transforming techniques. She hopes for government and corporate entities to pay more attention to “green chemistry” and boost to transform technology results.

“A real chemist should be devoted to exploring new scientific methods and creating new materials. Scientific challenges bring me endless passion and a sense of achievement, which has always motivated me to do research.” In the past decades, Zhang Lina has kept her passion for science and responsibility for her country in mind. Unlike her peers who are satisfied with their lives, she still strives to make one scientific breakthrough after another in order to make her contribution to the development of green chemistry.

 

Rewritten by Xiao Zhenlai

Edited by Jin Yiwen, Shen Yuxi, Hu Sijia, Edmund Wai Man Lai


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