Chemical Process Engineering and Forest Products Research Centre

Particles, Polymers and Biomaterials Technology (PPB)

Infografia PPB 2018

The research activities of the Group on Particles, Polymers and Biomaterials Technology address a wide variety of topics ranging from pulp and paper, sustainable processes, polymers and biomaterials, development of new drugs, particle technology, biorefineries and forest products, fully in-line with the four thematic lines that constitute present CIEPQPF’s strategy.

The main areas of current research can be organized as follows, even if it must be stressed that there are many interactions between the six main areas:


PPB has been involved since its beginning in this domain and has recognized expertise in this area. It has been involved in several projects focussing either on industrial problems or fundamental research with a close collaboration with the national paper mills, especially through RAIZ- Forest and Paper Research Institute. Issues like fibre characterization, flocculation processes (mechanisms and optimization), flow dynamics of pulp fibre suspensions, paper surface characterization and modification, flocculation of fillers and fillers modification, development of new additives such as nanocelluloses, paper-ink interactions (inkjet and offset), dimensional stability and cooking as well as bleaching conditions have been subjects of investigation.


This is another domain where the group has also been gathering critical mass and recognition. Members of the group have been developing work on the extraction/separation of high added-value compounds from agro-industrial wastes as well as from other natural renewable products and their residues. The use of "green", sustainable, biomimetic and environmental-friendly processes for the development of high-value materials, products and applications, including the use of supercritical carbon dioxide, ionic liquids, biomimetic catalysts, aqueous- and ethanolic-based solvents are research lines pursued by the group. These compounds will be employed as additives or as raw materials in food, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, environmental and other industrial applications.


Regarding Polymeric Materials, special emphasis has been given to the synthesis and characterization of new polymeric materials using new polymerization techniques; synthesis of biodegradable polymers (e. g. poly(lactic acid)) and development of new polymers. Micro and nanotechnologies have been implemented for application in paints and coatings in new composites. Synthesis of nanoparticles via self-assembly with controlled amphiphilic block copolymers with stimuli-responsive segments are also being synthesized.

In the area of biomaterials, special attention has been devoted to the development and characterization of hydrogels, adhesives, biosensors, drug delivery systems and nanotechnology, namely using supercritical fluid and molecular imprinting technologies. These biomaterials have been tested for medical applications namely in ophthalmology and in biological adhesives. Drug carriers include micro- and nanoparticles, hydrogels, films, adhesives as well as some finished biomedical devices such as contact and intraocular lenses. New unsaturated biodegradable polyesters are also being developed with tailored/improved thermomechanical properties for micro-thermo-stereo-litography in order to allow the preparation of 3D scaffolds for tissue engineering.


The group is developing work concerning the fermentation of wood and pulp sludge liquid hydrolysates to produce bioethanol, as well as the extraction of proteins and/or carbohydrates from defatted oilseed meals and also the extraction of hemicelluloses and their conversion into added-value products (e.g. bioethanol) and pulp sludge valorization.

The main strategy is an integrated biorefinery approach to produce sustainable biofuels from forest and industrial residues within the concept of wood biorefinery, namely their valorization to obtain bioproducts and/or renewable energy, using biocatalysis and fermentation as transformation tools. Ionic liquids have been used as powerful solvents for forest residues to separate lignin from carbohydrates.

More recently the group got involved on the tailored modification of cellulose or tannin polymers (namely residues including wastes from invasive species) to produce specific polelectrolytes for added value applications such as in cosmetics, food and biomedical applications, but also in environmental applications, valorizing natural wastes which are usually burn.


Another active area of research is Particle Characterization and Multiphase Processes, which, again, was one of the initial areas of development of the group when it was created. The group has a long tradition in the field of particle sizing (micro and nano particles) as well as on the determination of other morphological properties of dispersed materials. Later, the members of the group started developing new knowledge towards the use of those techniques for continuous monitoring of several processes, especially aggregation processes and particle formation (microcapsules). At the mechanistic level the group is also involved in the development of new models, namely modelling of the processes above using population balances. A new area of development is the application of CFD and Tomographic Techniques to model and monitor multiphase processes (solid/liquid, including fibres, as well as emulsions). Also rheological studies of different types of suspensions, including fibre suspensions, is another field of activity of the group. Lately, the group got also strongly involved in the field of Nanotoxicology, mainly in the area of the interaction of NPs with the aquatic environment and also on the application of nanomaterials to soil improvement (stabilization and remediation).


A very recent area of competence of the group is related to the development of new drugs (natural and synthetic) namely, synthetic anti-tumour steroids and as well as anti-tumour and anti-inflammatory hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives and bioactive (poly)phenols and terpenes from plants. Concerning the synthetic lines, contemporary approaches of medicinal chemistry are currently applied, specifically designing in a rational mode based on active ligands and in 3D structures of targets; synthesizing using rational strategies; doing biological evaluation with well-known methods and also inventing new procedures and complementing the process with molecular modeling.

Group members

Key publications

M. L. Vueba, L. A. E. Batista de Carvalho, F. Veiga, J. J. Sousa, M. E. Pina,” Influence of cellulose ether polymers on ketoprofen release from hydrophilic matrix tablets “, European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, 58 (1), 51-59, 2004.

J.F. Almeida, P. Ferreira, P. Alves, A. Lopes, M. H. Gil, “Synthesis of a thermo-sensitive drug delivery system by gamma irradiation”, International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 61:150–155, 2013.

P. Alves, A. A. Hugo, E. E. Tymczyszyn, A. F. Ferreira, R. Fausto, P. F. Pérez, J. F. J. Coelho, P. N Simões, A. Gómez-Zavaglia, “Effect of cholesterol-poly(N,N-dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate) on the properties of stimuli-responsive polymer liposome complexes”, Colloids Surfaces B, 104: 254–261, 2013.

A. M. A. Dias, A. Rey-Rico, R. A. Oliveira, S. Marceneiro, C. Alvarez-Lorenzo, A. Concheiro, R. N. C. Júnior, M. E. M. Braga, H. C. de Sousa, “Wound dressings loaded with an anti-inflammatory juca (Libidibia ferrea) extract using supercritical carbon dioxide technology”, Journal of Supercritical Fluids, 74, 34-45, 2013.

A. M. A. Dias, A. R. Cortez, M. Barsan, J. B. Santos, C. M. A. Brett, H. C. de Sousa, “Development of greener multi-responsive chitosan biomaterials doped with biocompatible ammonium ionic liquids, ACS Sustain”, Chemical Engineering, 1, 1480-1492, 2013.

P. Ferreira, A. Carvalho, T. R. Correia, B. P. Antunes, I. J. Correia, P. Alves, “Functionalization of polydimethylsiloxane membranes to be used in the production of voice prosthesis”, Science and Technology of Advanced Materials, 14: 1–8, 2013.

J.A.F. Gamelas, A. Salvador, J. Hidalgo, P.J. Ferreira, A. Tejado, “Unique combination of surface energy and Lewis acid-base characteristics of superhydrophobic cellulose fibres”, Langmuir, 33, 927-935, 2017.

A. F. Lourenço, J. A. F. Gamelas, T. Nunes, J. Amaral, P. Mutjé, P. J. Ferreira, “Influence of TEMPO-oxidised cellulose nanofibrils on the properties of filler-containing papers”, Cellulose, 24, 349-362, 2017.

M. B. C. de Matos, A. P. Piedade, C. Alvarez-Lorenzo, A. Concheiro, M. E. M. Braga, H. C. de Sousa, “Dexamethasone-loaded poly(E-caprolactone)/silica nanoparticles composites prepared by supercritical CO2 foaming/mixing and deposition”, International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 456, 269-281, 2013

P. C. Pinheiro, C. T. Sousa, J. P. Araújo, A. J. Guiomar, T. Trindade, “Functionalization of nickel nanowires with a fluorophore aiming at new probes for multimodal bioanalysis”, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 410, 21−26, 2013.

M. L. Vueba, A. Rodrigues, P. Lourenço, L. A. E. Batista de Carvalho, F. Veiga, J. J. Sousa, M. E. Pina, “Gamma scintigraphy in the analysis of ketoprofen behaviour from matrix tablets”, International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 448 (1), 298 – 304, 2013

A. M.A. Dias, S. Marceneiro, M. E.M. Braga, J. F.J. Coelho, A. G.M. Ferreira, P. N. Simões, I. M. Veiga, L. C. Tomé, I. M. Marrucho, J. M. S. S. Esperança, A. Matias, C. M. M. Duarte, L. P. N. Rebelo, H. C. de Sousa, “Phosphonium-based ionic liquids as modifiers for biomedical grade poly(vinyl chloride)”, Acta Biomaterialia, 8, 1366-1379, 2012.

I. Lopes, R. Ribeiro, F. E. Antunes, T. A. P. Rocha-Santos, M. G. Rasteiro, A. M. V. M. Soares, F. Gonçalves, R. pereira, “Toxivity and Genotoxicity of Organic and Inorganic Nanoparticles to the Bacteria Vibrio Fischeri and Salmonella Typhimurium”, Ecotoxicology, 21 (3), 637-648, 2012.

P. E. G. Loureiro, M. R. M. Domingues, A. J. S. Fernandes, M. G. V. S. Carvalho, D. V. Evtuguin, “Discriminating the brightness stability of cellulosic pulp in relation to the final bleaching stage”, Carbohydrate Polymers, 88(2):726-733, 2012.

C. M. N. Maleita, R. Curtis, I. Abrantes, “Thermal requirements for the embryonic development and life cycle of Meloidogyne hispânica”, Plant Pathology, 61, 1002–1010, 2012.

C. M. N. Maleita, R. H. C. Curtis, S. J. Powers, I. Abrantes, “Host status of cultivated plants to Meloidogyne hispânica”, European Journal of Plant Pathology, 133, 449–460, 2012

P. Coimbra, P. Alves, T. A. M. Valente, R. Santos, I. J. Correia, P. Ferreira, “Sodium hyalunorate/chitosan polyelectrolyte complex scaffolds for dental pulp regeneration: Synthesis and characterization”, International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 49(4), 573-579, 2011.

E. Forján, I. Garbayo, M. Henriques, J. Rocha, J. M. Veja, C. Vílchez, “UV-A Mediated Modulation of Photosynthetic Efficiency, Xanthophyll Cycle and Fatty Acid Production of Nannochloropsis”, Marine Biotechnology, 13:366-375, 2011.

F. Yañez, L. Martikainen, M. E. M. Braga, C. Alvarez-Lorenzo, A. Concheiro, C. M. M. Duarte, M. H. Gil, H. C. de Sousa, “Supercritical fluid-assisted preparation of imprinted contact lenses for drug delivery”, Acta Biomaterialia, 7, 1019-1030, 2011.

E. Antunes, F. A. P. Garcia, P. F erreira, A. Blanco, C. Negro, M. G. Rasteiro, “Modelling PCC flocculation by bridging mechanism using population balances: effect of polymer characteristics on flocculation”, Chemical Engineering Science, 65 (12), 3798-3807, 2010.

A. Ramos, S. Sousa, D. V. Evtuguin, J. A.F. Gamelas, “Functionalized xylans in the production of xylan-coated paper laminates”, Reactive and Functional Polymers, 117, 89-96, 2017.

M. G. Rasteiro, I. Pinheiro, H. Ahmadloo, D. Hunkeler, F. A. P. Garcia, P. Ferreira, C. Wandrey, “Correlation between flocculation and adsorption of cationic polyacrylamides on precipitated calcium carbonate”, Chemical Eng. Res. & Design, 95, 298-306, 2015.

R. Silva, P. Faia, F. A. P. Garcia, M. G. Rasteiro, “Characterization of Solid-Liquid Settling Suspensions Using Electrical Impedance Tomography: a Comparison Between Numerical Experimental and Visual Information”, Chem. Eng. Res. & Design, 111, 233-242, 2016.

Kinga Grenda, Julien Arnold, José Gamelas, Maria Graca Rasteiro, “Environmental Friendly Cellulose-Based Polyelectrolytes in Wastewater Treatment”, Water Science & Technology, 76 (6), 1490-1499, 2017.

Anita Lourenço, Julien Arnold, Olivier J. Cayre and Maria G. Rasteiro, “Flocculation Treatment of an Industrial Effluent: Performance Assessment by Laser Diffraction Spectroscopy”, 57 (7) 2628-2637, 2018.

Martim P. S. R. Matos, António Alberto S. Correia, Maria G. Rasteiro, "Application of carbon nanotubes to immobilize heavy metals in contaminated soils", J. Nanoparticles Research, 19 (126), 1-11, 2017

C. Varela, C. Amaral, E. Tavares-da-Silva, A. Lopes; G. Correia-da-Silva, R. A Carvalho, S. Costa, F. M.F. Roleira, N. Teixeira, “Exemestane metabolites: synthesis, stereochemical elucidation, biochemical activity and antiproliferative effects in a hormone-dependent breast cancer cell line”, Eur. J. Med. Chem., 87, 336-345, 2014.

E. J. Tavares-da-Silva, C. L. Varela, A. S. Pires, J. C. Encarnação, A. M. Abrantes, M. F. Botelho, R. A. Carvalho, C. Proença, M. Freitas, E. Fernandes, F. M. F. Roleira, “Combined dual effect of modulation of human neutrophils’ oxidative burst and inhibition of colon cancer cells proliferation by hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives”, Bioorg. & Med. Chem., 24, 3556–3564 2016.

Amaral, C. L. Varela, J. Maurício, A. F. Sobral, S. C. Costa, F. M.F. Roleira, E. J. Tavares-da-Silva, G. Correia-da-Silva, N. Teixeira, “Anti-tumor efficacy of new 7α-substituted androstanes as aromatase inhibitors in hormone-sensitive and resistant breast cancer cells”, J. Steroid Biochem. Mol. Biol., 171, 218-228, 2017.

Mónica Zuzarte, Jorge M. Alves-Silva, Melissa Alves, Carlos Cavaleiro, Lígia Salgueiro, Maria Teresa Cruz. New insights on the anti-inflammatory potential and safety profile of Thymus carnosus and Thymus camphoratus essential oils and their main compounds Journal of Ethnopharmacology 225 (2018) 10–17 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2018.06.025

Olga Cardoso, Maria Manuel Donato, Cristina Luxo, Nuno Almeida, Joana Liberal, Artur Figueirinha, Maria Teresa Batista. Anti-Helicobacter pylori potential of “Agrimonia eupatoria” L. and “Fragaria vesca”. Journal of Functional Foods, 2018, 44: 299–303. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2018.03.027

P. Matos, A. Figueirinha, A. Paranhos, F. Nunes, P. Cruz, C.F.G.C. Geraldes, M. T. Cruz, M. T. Batista. Bioactivity of “Acanthus mollis” – Contribution of benzoxazinoids and phenylpropanoids. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2018, 227: 198-205 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2018.09.013

Prata, A.I.; Coimbra, P.; Pina, M.E. Preparation of dexamethasone ophthalmic implants: a comparative study of in vitro release profiles. Pharmaceutical Development and Technology,23 (2017) 218-224. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10837450.2017.1306560.