Aalto University Bioinnovation Center


In the heart of Bioinnovation Center's research is the interdisciplinary doctoral school. Research is conducted in diverse teams consisting of talents from different fields such as chemistry, materials science, design, engineering, artificial intelligence, electronics, and business. Currently we have nine research projects ongoing, focusing on sustainable textiles and packaging. Please read more about the first seven research projects below.
origami folded paper
Photo: Anne Kinnunen

Cellugami project tackles packaging challenges with origami tessellations 

There is an increasing global need to develop sustainable alternatives to many existing packaging solutions, such as replacing plastics and encouraging reuse and repurposing of packaging materials. The Cellugami project addresses this need with a multidisciplinary approach that combines design, mathematics, and materials science. The project’s fundamental research directions include tessellated origami corrugations, curved spatial structures, alternative cellulose-based metamaterials, as well as a focus on creating novel visual narratives through materials design.

Project team:

Doctoral Candidate Laureen Mahler (ARTS), Professor Masood Masoodian (ARTS), Professor Jarkko Niiranen (ENG), University Lecturer Kirsi Peltonen (SCI)

water droplets on a water repellent textile
Photo: Anne Kinnunen

Sustainable lignin coatings for textiles and packaging

Lignin particles (CLPs) and certain epoxy compounds have shown to be useful for the preparation of multiresistant surface coatings. This coating has been proven to work on plastic-like films (such as regular plastics but also films of biomaterials) and textiles. On such materials, the coating stays firmly, protects against stains, sunlight, water, and microbial degradation. This project aims at tailoring the CLP surface coating for bio-based packaging and textiles. By improving the properties of the substrates, the coating would enable a broader use of biomaterials and reduce the use of fossil-based, non-degradable materials in packaging, and the hazardous chemicals used in the dying of textiles.

Project team:

Doctoral Candidate Sahar Babaeipour, Professor Monika Österberg (CHEM), Professor of Practice Pekka Oinas (CHEM)

A box with printable rfid tags
Photo: Anne Kinnunen

Sustainable intelligent packaging solutions

The packaging industry is a rapidly growing sector with an expected market share of ~$27 billion by 2024. As a promising actor of the sector, sustainable and intelligent packaging of products can provide not only protection against deteriorative ambient effects but also traceability and monitoring data across global supply chains. Therefore, innovative packaging solutions with enhanced functionalities such as condition monitoring and sensing of products, package identification (ID), counterfeit production in the supply chain can accommodate the consumer needs and fulfills the regulatory requirements especially in medicine, biological products and fresh produce. Taking all these considerations into account, this project will merge several disciplines of engineering and materials science to provide sustainable yet intelligent packaging monitoring solutions.

Project team: Doctoral Candidate Madhawa Basnayaka, Professor Jouni Paltakari (CHEM), Professor Riku Jäntti (ELEC)

E-textile with biobased condutive yarn
Photo: Mikko Raskinen

AIyarn-project combines sustainable textiles, nanomaterials, and machine learning

Electronic textiles (e-textiles) is a term that refers to digitally enhanced textiles, the peculiarity of which is to provide added value to the wearer. The electronic components of e-textiles enhance their aesthetics or enable new functionalities, such as wearable electronics. Common problems hindering wider commercialization are durability (e.g. fragility), user discomfort due to bulky integrated electronics, and sustainability, as inorganic and non-renewable materials are often used. In this project, these challenges are addressed by developing new yarns based on biomaterials for e-textiles. This will be done by combining nanocellulose with different types of functionalization that will provide optimized conductive, piezoelectric or actuating properties. 
AIyarn will produce new biomaterial yarns and represent a first use case of artificial intelligence, exploiting Bayesian optimization for bioinnovations.

Project team: Doctoral Candidate Matteo Iannacchero (CHEM), Professor Jaana Vapaavuori (CHEM), Professor Patrick Rinke (SCI)

Biomaterial in water
Photo: Mikko Raskinen

Computational fabric

The aim of this project is to develop a computational fabric that integrates sensing and computation directly into the fabric. The fabric is made of novel bio-based functional fibers. This project combines design, materials science, electronics, and artificial intelligence. It leverages machine learning
and AI methods for sensoring of human body and for design of advanced smart biomaterials. This research provides new knowledge on how to design and produce fully integrated smart materials and wearables in the context of sustainability. As electronics become fully integrated into the textile materials, they need to adapt to the dynamic nature of textiles, which poses new challenges for the electronics design. The aim of this project is to tackle these challenges.

Project team: Doctoral Candidate Sofia Guridi (ARTS), Professor Kirsi Niinimäki (ARTS), Professor Simo Särkkä (ELEC & FCAI), Professor Jaana Vapaavuori (CHEM), Professor Yu Xiao (ELEC)

A scarf made with lignin-based yarns
Photo: Anne Kinnunen

CelluMimicry-project develops environmentally friendly water repellent textiles

Most of our outdoor garments rely on synthetic fabrics for water-repelling properties. Moving away from oil-based products, new solutions are needed to gradually replace synthetic fibers. Nature has proven that it is possible to achieve hydrophobicity without synthetic or toxic materials. Can we do it too?
In a collaboration between business, chemistry, and materials science, this project aims to use biomimetic approaches to produce hydrophobic cellulosic textiles. By studying how nature achieves hydrophobicity, this functionality can be introduced with bio-based chemicals. The rising awareness of the environmental impact of the textile industry provides new market opportunities for sustainable innovations. To support our technical development towards commercialization, we will analyze the existing landscape of products that build on biomimicry.

Project team:

Doctoral Candidate Helena Sederholm (CHEM), Professor Michael Hummel (CHEM), Professor Samuli Patala (BIZ), Professor Minna Halme (BIZ)

sem image of pulp fibres attached to plastic
Image: Emilia Kauppi

SEREPLAS-project aims to improve recycling efficiency of multilayer packaging

The recycling processes of fibre-based plastic-coated barrier packaging (such as milk cartons) cannot selectively separate and recover the surface plastic layer. The fibrous material stuck to and following the plastic is incinerated with the plastic. The separated fibrous material (usually bleached chemical pulp fibres) is used in significantly lower-end products. To increase the added value of recycled materials, both the plastic must be recycled more efficiently, and the fibrous material must be recovered for higher value-added products.

The SEREPLAS project develops an efficient and selective separation process of plastic and cardboard. The separated plastic will be used for chemical recycling and the fibrous material for higher added value production. 

Project team:

Doctoral Candidate Emilia Kauppi (CHEM), Professor Jouni Paltakari (CHEM), Professor Petri Kuosmanen (ENG)

Industrial collaboration: Stora Enso, Valmet

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