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New materials from plants – Turning moisture-sensitivity into an advantage

Hygroscopicity of cellulose is often considered as a disadvantage of plant fiber-based materials. The ongoing FinnCERES research projects take a contrary approach, and create materials where hygroscopicity is an advantage.

FinnCERES is a flagship project program, funded by the Academy of Finland, where new materials for the bioeconomy are being developed in a cooperation between VTT and Aalto University. The project is executing fundamental research, but the idea is to quickly implement the results in applications. Research Professor Tekla Tammelin in leading the FinnCERES project at VTT.

A lot of research has been focused on eliminating the effects of water. However, in FinnCERES, water interactions of lignocellulose play a key role in several of the ongoing many projects. As an example, a cellulose molecule can be covered with a maximum number of water molecules to make fundamental conclusions about the structure and dimensions of cellulose.

FinnCERES aims at developing new technologies to be used in the process industry, especially pulp mills. The molecules of the pulp mill side streams can be further refined. For example, lignin can be converted into chemicals that provide added value or are environmentally efficient alternatives, or fiber components can be separated with greater efficiency. The overarching goal is to identify lignocellulose properties that have not been utilized before - or are even currently unknown.

Contacts

Senior Scientist Suvi Arola, +358 40 1354 890, suvi.arola@vtt.fi

Research Professor Dr. Tekla Tammelin, VTT Research PI of FinnCERES, tel. +358 40 0562 814, tekla.tammelin@vtt.fi

Links

FinnCERES Materials Cluster: https://finnceres.fi/

Image

An illustration of a fibrous material uptaking moisture. Image from Hakalahti et al. (2017) Interfacial Mechanisms of Water Vapor Sorption as Revealed by Quantitative Models. Biomacromolecules 2017, 18, 2951-2958.

 

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