Professor Gil Garnier is the Director of BioPRIA within the Department of Chemical Engineering at Monash University. His current research interests are focused on the application of colloids and polymers to surfaces, adhesion, composites, and the process of papermaking.
BioPRIA aims at migrating the Australian Pulp and Paper Industry into Biorefineries. We develop biomedical devices and diagnostic from paper, fine chemicals and advanced materials from wood. We aim at improving life in a sustainable way. Our philosophy is to form close consortia with our industrial partners. At BioPRIA, we develop world-class researchers who are competent, confident and responsible leaders.
At BioPRIA/Monash we are dedicated to developing materials that can first be reprocessed, then recycled and finally be fully biodegradable for compost at the end of their lifetime. Renewable products without sustainable processes are not of much use. We are therefore engineering systems to fully recycle the process water required to manufacture our new products. These rely on innovative use of evaporator, membrane technology and coagulation.
Prof. Garnier’s research and development activities aim at developing low-cost biomedical diagnostics and implementing Biorefineries. He achieves these objectives by applying the concepts of colloid and surface chemistry, polymer physics, green chemistry, material and process engineering to renewable lignocellulosic materials such as wood and agriculture residues. His activity gravitates around three platforms: 1) Surfaces and Bio-diagnostics, 2) Nanocellulose and Nanocomposites, and 3) Green Chemistry and Sustainable Processes.
Dr Garnier led the initiative with industry partner Haemokinesis in developing GLIF, the first blood typing paper diagnostic, [1-12]. This is now in full commercialization. He and his group are finalizing a paper diagnostic to measure fibrinogen in blood and analyse other health conditions [13-21]. They developed the traditional gel cards for blood typing using nanocellulose gels [22,23]. The group has achieved the “impossible”. In engineering Lasers to incubate blood-antibody for blood typing they have developed a treatment that is much faster and accurate than any current technology and it is now being implemented commercially . The current work to grow organoids from nanocellulose gels is very promising; when successful, this will revolutionize cancer treatment by enabling affordable personal medicine for all.
Dr Garnier has committed to projects that replace oil-based plastics and chemicals by performant polymers and composites made from wood and lignocellulosics. His group leads 5 initiatives: First is the replacement of plastic bags by strong and thin nanocellulose reinforced papers. Second, is superabsorbent polymer from nanocellulose foam for diaper and food packaging applications [25,26]. Third are nanocellulose hydro-retentor gels for agriculture use; these will keep the soil of Australian farms moist in our new global warming era. Fourth, is the extraction of hemicellulose oligomers from eucalyptus to synthesise bio-sourced surfactants. The last consists of polymerizing lignin oligomers extracted from pine radiata for producing new UV-curable and self-healing coatings. These projects are developed in collaboration with researchers from Monash and abroad.
In partnership with our industrial partners, Prof. Garnier has led two ARC Industry Transformation Research Hubs (ITRH) to migrate the Australasian Pulp and Paper and Forest industries into biorefineries. The ARC ITRH Bioprocessing Advanced Manufacturing Initiatives (BAMI) (2015-2017) developed the concepts of green chemistry from wood and identified the strong potential of nanocellulose manufacture from pulp. ARC ITRH Processing Advanced Lignocellulosics (PALS) (2018-2022) is developing new products for food, industrial and biomedical applications from processing wood, pulp and paper. Working with Haemokinesis, Dr. Garnier’s team has also conceived many new biodiagnostic concepts, now engineered into paper diagnostics and devices. This decade long activity has been supported by two major ARC Linkage grants.
Position and Background
Dr Garnier is the founding Director of BioPRIA, the BioProcessing Resource Research Institute of Australia created in 2013 and based at Monash University. BioPRIA emerged from the Australia Pulp and Paper Institute (APPI) that Prof. Garnier has directed since 2005. Dr. Garnier is also Professor in Chemical Engineering at Monash since 2005. Previously, he was team leader and Research Engineer at Kimberly-Clark (WI, USA) (2000-2005), and Paprican Professor in Chemical Engineering at McGill University (Montreal, Canada) (1993-2000).