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Wednesday, April 17, 2024–A Department of Science and Technology (DOST) - Balik Scientist is developing plant-based, biodegradable packaging from waste materials.

Dr. Noel Peter Tan, a Medium-Term DOST Balik Scientist and head of the Center for Advanced New Materials, Engineering, and Emerging Technologies (CANMEET) in University of San Agustin (USA) in Iloilo, has extensive experience in Applied Chemistry, specifically in the field of nanotechnologies for more than 10 years. He leads CANMEET–the first material science and emerging technologies research center in Western Visayas. The research center houses two laboratories, the Smart Packaging Laboratory, and the Membranes Laboratory.

This project on biodegradable packaging was revealed during Dr. Tan’s Exit Report Presentation held in Iloilo City. Dr. Tan leads the research on Nano-enabled bioplastics from regenerated cellulose aimed at producing an alternative source of biodegradable bioplastic with an improved mechanical property suitable for packaging materials. While traditional plastic is made from petroleum-based raw materials, bioplastics are plastic materials produced from renewable sources.

“Contributions of Balik Scientists, like the work of Dr. Tan enriches the country through innovations geared towards solving national concerns like environmental protection and management,” said DOST Undersecretary for R&D Leah J. Buendia. “As a nanoscience and nanotechnology expert, we are confident that Dr. Tan has successfully led the development of an R&D active environment for the USA, particularly in the fields of nanoscience, nanotechnology, and chemical engineering.”

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Dr. Tan also leads The Membrane Technology for Seawater Desalination Program at CANMEET study on improving a passive membrane-distillation system powered by solar energy. This shall develop a more productive desalinator through surface functionalization of its membrane layers.
The preliminary data generated in this proposal will have significant impact towards the development of a functional prototype of desalinator for community-based application in the future. Sustainable domestic water generation through seawater desalination is one of the promising alternatives to providing sufficient water access in the country.
Department of Science and Technology-Balik Scientist Program has been established as early as 1975 with the goal of strengthening the scientific and technological human resources of both public and private institutions, academe included. The program aims to promote continuous knowledge sharing and accelerate the flow of new technologies amongst our local researchers by seeking support from Filipino experts and professionals to avail the program and return to the Philippines.
Such expertise is seen to address specific STI challenges the country faces.
“We are confident that his influence (Dr. Tan) will continue to drive innovation and inspire future scientists. We are honored to have him as part of the Balik Scientist Program and look forward to his future endeavors,” said DOST-PCIEERD Executive Director, Dr. Enrico C. Paringit.
Dr. Tan also crafted a new course syllabus, the Methods of Research 101 (MR 101), and new elective courses on Introduction to Nanotechnology, and Plastics Products Manufacture. During his tenure as Balik Scientist at the University of San Agustin, Dr. Tan provided invaluable mentorship to the students and facilitated a comprehensive series of training on nanoscience and nanotechnology.
In his one-year term, Dr. Tan's dedication and expertise have already made a considerable impact on enhancing USA's research capabilities while also igniting a passion for STEM among the students.
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