School of Chemical Engineering


Clement Chan is currently a PhD student at the School of Chemical Engineering the University of Queensland, Australia. He holds a BChE in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, U.S.A. where he worked as a research assistant involving in a project focused on the toughening of graphene-epoxy nanocomposites through the functionalisation of graphene.

His major research experience is in high performance functional composites and has particular interest in materials with sustainable future. He gained expertise in biocomposites during his PhD project on the development of sustainable materials based on wood and biodegradable polymers, in close collaboration with industry partner (Norske Skog). In this project, he gained interests in translational research aiming to bridge the gap between research and industry. His goals are to develop skills and expertise in market-driven, solution-based research activities towards the development of sustainable materials and bioprocessing.

Research Project

Title: Development of bio-derived and biodegradable polyhydroxyalkanaote (PHA)-based wood plastic composites

Advisors: Dr. Bronwyn Laycock (principal); A/Prof. Steven Pratt, Prof. Peter Halley; Dr. Luigi Vandi

Brief Summary of project:

In the modern world, wood plastics composites are found in many common applications in our daily life, from household furniture to building structure components. However, petroleum-based plastics have been the polymer of choice for wood plastic composites. The enormous amount of solid waste associated with conventional polymers and the limitations in petroleum resources have raised public awareness of the environmental issues of non-degradable petroleum derived polymer use.

Research focus has turned to the development of renewable and biodegradable polymers such as starch, polylactic acid and polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). This project propose that PHA is an ideal ingredient in wood plastic composites as it leads to improved processing and better composite properties, is water resistant, and can be generated from sustainable resources.

Current literature has demonstrated the potential and the rising interest of these biodegradable PHA-based wood plastic composites. However, the majority of the studies have been focused on improving the interfacial adhesion between wood and polymer through various compatibilisation techniques.

Several fundamental concepts still need to be investigated for broader implementation of such technology and further commercial development, which provides the motivation for this PhD project. This project is scoped to comprehensively understand the full spectrum PHA-based wood plastic composites, from manufacturing processes to the end-of-life, with strong focuses on developing a deeper understanding of the structure-property relationships and interfacial optimisation strategies as well as more thorough in-service stability and end-of-life analyses.

Key Publications

Chan, Clement Matthew, Vandi, Luigi-Jules, Pratt, Steven, Halley, Peter, Richardson, Desmond, Werker, Alan, Laycock, Bronwyn. (2018). Composites of wood and biodegradable thermoplastics: A review. Polymer Reviews (published online)

Chan, Clement Matthew, Vandi, Luigi-Jules, Pratt, Steven, Halley, Peter, Richardson, Desmond, Werker, Alan, Laycock, Bronwyn. (2018). Mechanical performance and long-term indoor stability of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA)-based wood plastic composites (WPCs) modified by non-reactive additives. European Polymer Journal, 98, 337-346.

Chan, Clement Matthew, Johansson, Peter, Magnusson, Per, Vandi, Luigi-Jules, Arcos-Hernandez, Monica, Halley, Peter, Laycock, Bronwyn, Pratt, Steven, Werker, Alan. (2017). Mixed culture polyhydroxyalkanoate-rich biomass assessment and quality control using thermogravimetric measurement methods. Polymer Degradation and Stability, 144, 110-120.

Chan, Clement, Vandi, Luigi-Jules, Pratt, Steven, Halley, Peter, Richardson, Desmond, Werker, Alan, & Laycock, Bronwyn. (2016). Processing and characterisation of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA)-based wood plastic composites: Effect of non-reactive additives. Appita Journal: Journal of the Technical Association of the Australian and New Zealand Pulp and Paper Industry, 69(4), 352-360.

Park, Yong Tae, Qian, Yuqiang, Chan, Clement, Suh, Taewon, Nejhad, Mehrdad Ghasemi, Macosko, Christopher W., Stein, Andreas. (2015). Epoxy Toughening with Low Graphene Loading. Advanced Functional Materials, 25(4), 575-585.

PhD Student

Room: 521

Building: Advanced Engineering (49)

p: +61 7 336 57132