I hope to see my ideas and work for sustainable solutions considered in the real world

I hope to see my ideas and work for sustainable solutions considered in the real world

Tam Nguyen has a strong motivation in his work, coming from Vietnam – a country that is producing a lot of plastic waste and being part of the young generation that understands the need to find new solutions. He looked for opportunities in a developed country and the choice happened to be Sweden, first Stockholm and KTH for his Masters in Macromolecular materials and then Lund University for his PhD.

– Plastics is polluting our waters and our land. But is the best man-made material and is also very versatile. When covid emerged, plastic was a reliable barrier protecting us in the fight with the virus as most the equipment for doctors and caregivers were made of plastic. Thus, while reducing plastic impact on environment, we still need to leverage this amazing material.

For Tam Nguyen it is interesting to work with solutions for a new generation of plastics and use the ideas about the circular economy, about closing the loop instead of producing more waste. By considering the products end of life already from the start with chemistry, newly synthesized plastic could be not only endowed desired mechanical properties but also designed deliberately with degradability or recyclability.

– In the Mistra STEPS programme, I am trying to use the lignin-based building blocks that could be readily made from WP1 to find solutions for a bio-based toothpick within the Mission 3. We have clear goals on how the bio-based polymers should mimic polybutylene terephthalate (PBT). We are in the first stages of preparing new lignin-based polyesters; we will choose our best polymers and send them to test at Tepe.

The experience of working in collaboration between academia and industry is rewarding and new to Tam Nguyen. As many researchers dream about, to bridge the “valley of death”, where research findings can be used to solve real industrial problem, is interesting. Good for researchers to understand the difficulties in the production as well as the application of material.

– I enjoy working in the lab, it gives me more freedom for my ideas and curiosity. Currently, I am working on lignin-based polyesters. Lignin is of interest for replacing several kinds of materials, which provides good research opportunities and interesting challenges for a PhD.

– My ambition is to be a bridge between academia and industry, close the gap, make the knowledge come closer to the core. I want to have the chance to speak out my ideas and have them considered in the real world.

Tam Nguyen, Center for Analysis and Synthesis, Lund University