Dr. Muhammad Rabnawaz


Dr. Muhammad Rabnawaz is making the world a greener place through his paper research at Michigan State University.

Rabnawaz, assistant professor in the School of Packaging and adjunct professor in the department of chemistry, is researching and developing smarter and more environmentally friendly packaging solutions.

“Our projects are highly applied, and we expect close collaboration with world-leading industries,” Rabnawaz said. “These partnerships will offer unique training and career opportunities for our research group members. Currently, we are collaborating with companies across the globe testing our paper coating technology.”

The paper Rabnawaz developed has the potential to replace disposable plastic or plastic-laminated paper dishes, food wrappers, utensils, straws, and more that currently create a massive, negative environmental impact.

Current disposable items have led to an increase in the use of plastics and fluorochemicals, which are synthetically produced chemicals that repel oil and water. Fluorochemicals and plastics do not easily decompose and often accumulate in the environment.

Researchers around the globe are growing increasingly concerned by petro-chemical-derived plastics pollution, the use of harmful chemicals like fluorochemicals in the paper industry, and the growing demand for food across the globe.

“Research is my passion, and I enjoy each bit of my work,” Rabnawaz said. “There is always something new under development and it is exciting to see this technology being put into use where it will help to improve peoples’ lives.”

Rabnawaz’s new paper, in addition to being fluorine-free, is both water and oil resistant, making it an ideal solution to replace the fluorochemicals often necessary for packaging. It is also 100% recyclable, which will alter the paper coating industry and minimize its environmental footprint.

Rabnawaz and his team worked with the MSU Innovation Center to obtain the MTRAC Grant for this project. This grant helped speed up the commercialization of their work.

Rabnawaz takes inspiration from his research and from the words of Arthur Ashe: “Success is a journey, not a destination.”

In 2019, Rabnawaz significantly advanced his research:

  • Awarded a grant of $24,847 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop a planet-friendly and scalable approach toward 100% recyclable water and oil-resistant paper.
  • Awarded a grant of $38,000 by ADVANCED Grant Proof of Concept Fund/MSU for developing food-safe water- and oil-repellent paper substrates for food packaging.
  • Nominated again for the prestigious Moore Inventor Fellowship by MSU.
  • Research team awarded a TSGTD grant for $100,000.
  • Rabnawaz and Dr. Aliakbarian have been awarded a TSGTD grant for $51,800.

2019 patents

  • M. Rabnawaz. Resealable glue for packaging and non-packaging applications
  • M. Rabnawaz, S. Hamdani. Water and grease resistant biodegradable materials
  • M. Rabnawaz, M. Khan, A. Khan. Novel additives for clear omniphobic materials
  • M. Rabnawaz, A. Khan. Self-healing materials
  • M. Rabnawaz, A. Khan. Self-healing omniphobic composition
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