Rakesh Gupta, the George and Carolyn Berry Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Chemical Engineering at West Virginia University, is one of 16 scientists from around the world to be honored with the Distinguished Speaker Award from CHEMCON, the four-day annual flagship event of Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers.
Scheduled for December 27-30, at the Indian Institute of Technology in Guwahati, India, CHEMCON brings together the chemical engineering fraternity from India and abroad to share their knowledge and expertise for development. About 150 delegates from the U.S., Japan, Canada, the U.K. and other countries, as well as 1,200 Indian delegates are expected to attend.
Gupta will discuss his research in the use of polylactic acid, a plastic derived from corn, for use in food packaging. Although PLA is the most common bioplastic in use today, its use in food packaging is limited since it allows moisture to pass through it at a faster rate as compared to competing, petroleum-derived plastics, such as polyethylene terephthalate or PET. He will present his efforts to make the permeability of moisture through PLA similar to that of PET.
"Food packaging companies are interested in developing sustainable and environmentally friendly options," Gupta said. "PLA is not only bio-derived and, therefore, renewable, it is also biodegradable, since it is compostable. Proper packaging of food increases shelf life and also reduces the amount of food that is wasted."
Gupta has been researching different aspects of polymer nanocomposites for the past 15 years. He has published numerous papers and co-edited two textbooks on the subject.
"The work that I will present at this conference addresses an important societal problem," said Gupta. "It is professionally very gratifying to be recognized for one's work and to be selected to participate in a conference such as this."
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