Polysaccharides are everywhere and all around us. They are in plants, animals, LCD screens, tires, medicines, cosmetics, paints, nonwovens, and binders. We use them as food, tools, furniture, paper, home, cloth … and so on and on.
Cellulose is the most abundant natural polymer followed by chitin. Starch belongs to the group of most common polycarbohydrates and its importance is mainly due to the fact that it is digestible by humans and stores energy.
Combined together, polysaccharides represent the largest group of polymers harvested and produced in the world . It is because they are renewable and extremely useful in countless areas of applications whose number is steadily growing. Cellulose, chitin and starch are liked by scientists and researchers due to their chemical and physical properties and by product developers due to their availability and affordability depending on the grade and on specific target applications. Starch is the cheapest of all three, cellulose is much more expensive and chitin, especially its preferred derivative chitosan, in order of magnitude is more costly than starch.
What can these natural polymers offer as raw materials? Fig. 1 illustratessome useful chemical and physical features which allow for converting the polysaccharides into infinite number of useful products.
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