Basic Polymer Science of Biomass/Biomaterials

Course content

This course is meant for students that have no or little background in polymers and polymer materials science and could be particularly useful for students interested in biomass, bioenergy, food science, etc. It is intended for students who would like to gain some knowledge of the fundamentals of material science of natural materials and of interesting examples in the area of biomimetics and biomimicry. The purpose of the course is that the student gets a grasp of how structure of a polymer and other materials can relate to its properties, commonly known as structure-property relationships. Molecular weight distributions, glass transition temperature and other basic, but very important polymer concepts will be covered. The concepts of intermolecular bonding, surfaces and adhesion will be taught. We will try and relate some of the concepts you learn to natural materials such as lignocellulosic material, especially the wood cell wall chemical and ultrastructure, and materials that exist in both human and animal bodies. Subjects such as the chemistry of polymerization and how polymers are synthesized will not be covered. During the course the students will make short scientific reports based on the lecture contents and the course litterature and these will be discussed in class. The students will read scientific articles supplementing the lectures.

The course covers the following subjects:

Introduction to Biomimetics and Biomimicry.

Primary and secondary atomic bonding.

Introduction to polymers.
What is the glass transition temperature (Tg)?
How chemical structure and morphology influences Tg and properties?
Structure-property relationships in polymers.

Surfaces and Adhesion:
Surface properties and Wetting
Adhesion Mechanisms

Bio-based Material:
Plant Based: Relating what has been learned in the previous sections; we will discuss and read papers on wood (softwood and hardwood), plant and agricultural fibers, and other natural and bio-based materials. This will include knowledge on wood ultrastructure, hemicellulose, lignin and cellulose.

Animal based: An introduction to diverse materials such as spider webs, seashells, fish scales, bones, mussels, barnacles, etc. will be taught to give an idea of biomimetics and biomimicry. and others interested in natural materials.

Learning outcome


Introduction to Biomimetics and Biomimicry. Primary and secondary bonding. Molecular weight distributions, glass transition temperature and other basic polymer concepts will be covered. The relation of how structure of the polymer determines properties, commonly known as structure-property relationships, will be an important part of the course. Surface phenomenon and basics of adhesion and elementary concepts of composites will be covered. We will try and relate some of the concepts you learn during the course to understand natural materials such as wood and other lignocellulosic material, and materials that exist in both human and animal bodies.


Application of the basic knowledge on polymer and biopolymer science for understanding and discussing research articles. Relate wood or animal based material ultrastructure to the understanding of the basics of polymer science.


Apply basics of chemistry and polymer science for understanding biopolymer structure and properties, and constitution and properties of plant and animal based materials.

A significant participation by the student in teaching is expected to give a common learning process. The students will be giving presentations which are based on exposition of relevant articles as chosen by the student and teachers. Two consecutive lectures are given twice a week, the first two by teachers, the last two by a student for each lecture. Supervision can be up to 1 hr after each 2 consecutive classes if needed. Reading of peer reviewed articles on fundamental principles of polymers and articles exclusively about bio-based (plant and animal) materials. Also included will be reading material that will enhance the knowledge of what has been taught.

Please see Absalon.

Basic knowledge of natural sciences.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, During course
Oral examination, 20 min
The student will need to hand in a report on a subject within curriculum. The report has to be subitted prior to the exam week.
Oral exam of 20 minutes will be based on the report. Questions within the broader curriculum can be asked.
Without aids
Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Guidance
  • 7
  • Preparation
  • 95
  • Study Groups
  • 40
  • Seminar
  • 29
  • Class Seminar
  • 7
  • English
  • 206