Laboratory of Agro industrial Chemistry (LCA)

The Laboratory of Agro-Industrial Chemistry (LCA) was created in 1975 to develop the chemistry of agro-resources.

Associated to INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) through a co-funded research unit (1010 INRA/Toulouse INP-ENSIACET), the LCA performs multi-disciplinary research in partnership with the academic, agricultural and industrial sectors.

Our scientific strategy is to acquire knowledge on the chemical structures and properties of agro-molecules as well as to study of their reactivity.

The final objective of our research is the non-food utilization of products and by-products from agriculture, forestry and agro-industries. In one word: the chemistry of "renewable carbon".

Through this approach, the research at LCA associates Science and Technology of Agro-Resources with Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.

Description of the polysaccharide research activities:

Focused on the field of natural polymers, the main research activities are:

  •       Eco-designed biorefinery processes: fractionation, extraction, purification.
  •       Reassembling processes: microencapsulation, injection molding, thermo-molding.
  •       Chemical modifications.
  •       Physicochemical characterization of raw and transformed polymers.

The processes eco-design activities aim at developing the fundamental understanding in the lignocellulosic plant fractionation according the biorefinery concept. It has 3 main research areas:

- Plant fractionation: to understand the thermo-mechanical-chemical action during twin-screw extrusion.

- Polymer purification: to understand mass transfer during membrane filtration and chromatography.

- Process optimization: to define the conditions for introducing life cycle parameters in the process models.

The polymer reassembling activities aim to understand how natural polymers can be used to create new biobased materials. It has two main research areas:

- Agromaterials: to understand the mechanisms of polymer assembly and blending during thermopressing and injection-molding.

- Encapsulation: polysaccharides (and plant proteins) as cell wall for microencapsulation, combining physico-chemical modifications of these polymers to improve their encapsulating properties.

Considering the chemical modifications of natural fibers (lignocellulosic materials i.e. wood) or isolated natural biopolymers such as cellulose, lignin, hemicelluloses, proteins, starch. Our work is focused on:

- To develop new greener processes to improve the accessibility of reactive groups (e.g. -OH, -NH2)

- To understand the reaction mechanisms and the physical limitations involved in the chemical modification of fibers, on the surface or in the bulk.

- To understand the structure/property relationships allowing the orientation of the chemical reaction (reagents, selectivity) to meet the requirements of a specific application.

- To improve the functional properties of plant biopolymers for hydrophobization, selective gas permeability, dimensional and UV stability, thermoplasticity, mechanical properties, microencapsulation, biological resistance, compatibilization with other polymer matrices, etc.

- To develop improved biosolvents for the solubilization of biopolymers, natural or modified, by using modelling techniques and thermodynamic parameters.

Polymer characterization activities aim to understand the physicochemical properties of polymers. Our activities are spread out from raw materials to final products, covering all processes that polymers can follow, in order to understand relationships between structure/properties and/or structure/reactivity. Four technical platforms are dedicated to polymer characterization, including non-destructive and destructive analyses:

- Physicochemical analysis: DVS, DSC (TOPEM), DMA, Dilatometer (PVT diagrams), IGC (analysis of solids surfaces), Dynamic Contact Angle Analysis, Rheometer, Tensiometer (surface tension), Universal Testing Machine (3 point bend, tensile, flexion and compression tests), Kjeldahl Distillation Unit, Fibertec system, NREL…

- Liquid chromatography: HPLC, semi-preparative HPLC, HPLC-MS, HPIC, HPTLC, TLC-FID, SEC-MALS-UV-Refractometer (3 angles)…

- Gas chromatography: GC-FID, ATD-GC-MSn/FID, GC-MS, GC-Sniffing.

- Spectroscopy: Raman Microscopy (200-2200nm) equipped with different cells (Heating/cooling, Electrochemical and Diamond anvil and pressure) capable of cartographic representation and remote measurements (2 ballprobes), FTIR/UV, NIR, on-line NIR & FTIR, NMR 300 MHz (1H, 13C, 2D)

Main pieces of equipment:


Extruders (single-screw, twin-screw), polymer injection moulding, prototype for stretch blow moulding, internal mixer, capillary/rotational/elongational rheometers, rheo-optical facilities, spray-drying atomizer…


Contact: Carlos Vaca-Garcia


Phone: +33 (0) 5 34 32 35 03

Address: Laboratoire de Chimie Agroindustrielle, INP-ENSIACET, 4 allée Emile Monso - BP 44362, 31030 TOULOUSE Cedex 4 FRANCE

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