“I think in this area we can do something really good”
Professor Qi Zhou is associate Professor in the Division of Glycoscience, School of Biotechnology at Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden. He came to the 2nd ICNF as a keynote speaker.
Do you agree that “From Nature to Market” is an emerging topic?
Yes, and we need a dialogue with the industry. The researchers need to approach the industry to find out what they are interested in and what the market wants. I think the conference has generated an excellent platform for such a dialogue. Glass, aramid, and carbon fibers reinforced plastics have dominated around 90% of all high performance fiber reinforced composite materials in the composite industries and their production continues to grow. With increasing concerns for the climate and environment, in terms of the next generation of materials, it has been recognized globally that paradigm-shifting research is required to improve the performance of materials based on renewable resources, such as natural fibers.
I believe it will happen in 5-10 years; we will have completely green products within that time frame. It requires a lot of team work, not only among scientists but also between the scientists and society. Even the government has a role to play, by promoting polices in this area. Working together, we can really benefit sustainable development of our society, and the consumers.
Your main area is biomimetics…
Exactly, biomimetics is a major part of our research work. Basically, we are trying to understand how the mother nature works, and how natural materials are produced; for example, how the plant cell walls are formed, so that we can mimic the natural process to develop very high-performance natural fibers-based composite materials.
Were you pleased to know that the conference would be held in Azores?
I think it is very nice for the conference to bring international scientists from different research areas related to natural fibers and the industrial representatives together to Azores. The conference provides us with a great opportunity to discuss new ideas and to initiate collaborations. With the recent advances in nanotechnology, the research and development in the next generation of natural fibers-based materials is expanding. I think in this area we can do something really good.