Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems

Bioproduct Chemistry

The Bioproduct Chemistry group is led by Prof. Monika Österberg. The group works on the development of renewable, high added-value materials based on lignocellulosics. Our research is especially focused on understanding interfacial properties using atomic force microscopy (AFM, imaging and force measurements), quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D), and surface plasmon resonance (SPR), among other techniques.
CHEM_Bio_Foam and woad research
Foams and woad prints research

Our research areas:

  1. Lignin valorization with a focus on lignin nanoparticles

  2. Lignocellulosic nanomaterials

  3. Surface functionalization and understanding surface interactions

Schematic illustration of lignin valorization

1. Lignin valorization:

An important part of our research is devoted to the transformation of waste lignin from biorefineries and pulp industries into high added-value products. The preparation, modification and utilization of colloidal lignin particles (lignin nanoparticles) are at the core of this research line.

Bio-based coatings, adhesives, and composites are some examples of commercial applications of colloidal lignin particles we are working on.

Composite film made of cellulose nanofibrils and lignin

2. Lignocellulosic nanomaterials:

Aiming for a more sustainable use of natural resources, we work on the development of new value-added materials based on cellulose nanofibrils, hemicelluloses, and colloidal lignin particles to replace fossil-oil based materials in areas ranging from packaging and coatings to tissue engineering. Components from bark extracts are also studied as biocolorants and for packaging and other added-value applications.

Textiles modified with dyes and hydrophobic coatings. Photo: Valeria Azovskaya

3. Surface functionalization and understanding surface interactions:

We explore different green approaches for the surface modification. One main aim is to develop bio-based dyes and pigments to replace synthetic dyes commonly used in the textile industry.

In addition, nontoxic approaches for protective coatings solutions with controlled breathability for surfaces like wood, textiles and paper are explored.

Living cells and biomaterials:

Our approach to developing materials is via fundamental understanding of interfacial interactions. Hence, the interaction forces and adhesion between living cells and different biomaterials (including cellulose nanofibril hydrogels) have been studied in our group. Analyses on cell mechanics have also been carried out. The results of these studies are relevant for advanced cell cultures, wound treatment, drug testing, and tissue engineering, among other biomedical applications.

We also work on the development of 3D printed scaffolds made of hydrogel materials based on wood polymers for cell culturing and other biomedical applications.

Schematic illustration of a cell in contact with cellulose nanofibrils, and photo of 3D printing

Examples of ongoing research projects:

  • Zero Waste Ligno-Cellulosic Biorefineries by Integrated Lignin Valorisation (Zelcor). Funded by European Union and Bio-Based Industries consortium (EU-BBI).
  • Development of a hybrid biorefinery process for the side-stream lignin (IMPRESS). Funded by European Union, under the program Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE).
  • Lignin nanospheres as a platform material for sustainable adhesives and beyond (LignoSphere). Funded by Business Finland (TUTLI).
  • Fundamental understanding of nanoscaled wood components (LigCNF). Funded by FinnCERES (Academy of Finland).
  • Bio-based dyes and pigments for colour palette (BioColour). Funded by Academy of Finland.
  • Sustainable Composites through Enzymatic processing of Lignin and Lipids (SUSCELL). Funded by Novo Nordisk.
Bioproduct Chemistry group / photo by Jinze Dou

Join us!

Highly motivated MSc, doctoral or postdoctoral students interested in joining the team should contact Prof. Österberg ([email protected]).

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Related content:

Academic co-operation on the boreal forest belt launched to accelerate innovation and adoption of bio-based solutions

University of British Columbia (UBC), Aalto University and VTT are joining their strong expertise on bio-based materials by launching the Boreal Alliance. The collaboration is realized via the Finnish FinnCERES Flagship and the BioProducts Institute at UBC.

Boreal forest belt

Monika Österberg starts as Head of Department at BIO2

Professor Monika Österberg has been nominated as the Head of Department at the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems (BIO2), starting January 1, 2021. Her term is for three years. She has acted as Vice Head of Department since the beginning of the year 2020.

Monica Österberg

Wood Wonders exhibition showcases climate-friendly building concepts

If all the buildings constructed in Finland each year were made of wood, the amount of wood needed for their construction would grow back in ten hours.

Wood Wonders exhibition at Helsinki airport. Photo: Anne Kinnunen

Using lignin to replace fossil materials

Ball-like lignin particles developed by researchers open up completely new possibilities for the utilisation of lignin.

The research and utilisation of ball-like lignin particles  is still new, but the production is already possible in batches of several kilogrammes. That makes it possible to test them in different applications, says Professor Monika Österberg. Photo: Glen Forde/Materials Platform

Breakthrough in lignin research: spherical particles multiply enzyme efficiency

Lignin, a pulp industry by-product, could replace fossil materials.

Biocatalysts (pictured at the bottom of the vial), supported by spherical lignin particles and embedded in natural polymer matrix, open new avenues to green synthesis reactions in the presence of water. Photo: Valeria Azovskaya

Monika Österberg develops from wood a contender to oil

Associate Professor of Bioproduct Chemistry Monika Österberg wants to see her innovations change the world.

Monika Österberg

Latest publications:

Self-Assembled Nanorods and Microspheres for Functional Photonics : Retroreflector Meets Microlens Array

Guang Chu, Feng Chen, Bin Zhao, Xue Zhang, Eyal Zussman, Orlando J. Rojas 2021 ADVANCED OPTICAL MATERIALS

Self-Standing Lignin-Containing Willow Bark Nanocellulose Films for Oxygen Blocking and UV Shielding

Jinze Dou, Tapani Vuorinen, Hanna Koivula, Nina Forsman, Mika Sipponen, Sami Hietala 2021 ACS Applied Nano Materials

Tuning the functional properties of lignocellulosic films by controlling the molecular and supramolecular structure of lignin

E. Gerbin, G. N. Rivière, L. Foulon, Y. M. Frapart, B. Cottyn, M. Pernes, C. Marcuello, B. Godon, A. Gainvors-Claisse, D. Crônier, A. Majira, M. Österberg, B. Kurek, S. Baumberger, V. Aguié-Béghin 2021 International Journal of Biological Macromolecules

The physicochemical properties of cellulose surfaces modified with (depolymerised) suberin and suberin fatty acid

Berhane Handiso, Juan José Valle-Delgado, Leena Sisko Johansson, Mark Hughes 2021 Industrial Crops and Products

Skin and bubble formation in films made of methyl nanocellulose, hydrophobically modified ethyl(hydroxyethyl)cellulose and microfibrillated cellulose

Johanna Lyytikäinen, Maria Morits, Monika Österberg, Isto Heiskanen, Kaj Backfolk 2021 Cellulose

Hydrophobization of the Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers by Incorporating Plant-Derived Hydrophobic Compounds

Kaniz Moriam, Marja Rissanen, Daisuke Sawada, Michael Altgen, Leena-Sisko Johansson, Dmitry Victorovitch Evtyugin, Chamseddine Guizani, Michael Hummel, Herbert Sixta 2021 ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering

Modeling and optimization of polyethylene glycol (PEG) addition for cost-efficient enzymatic hydrolysis of lignocellulose

Ville Pihlajaniemi, Anne Kallioinen, Mika Sipponen, Antti Nyyssölä 2021 BIOCHEMICAL ENGINEERING JOURNAL

Toward waste valorization by converting bioethanol production residues into nanoparticles and nanocomposite films

Guillaume Riviere, Florian Pion, Muhammad Farooq, Mika H. Sipponen, Hanna Koivula, Thangavelu Jayabalan, Pacal Pandard, Guy Marlair, Xun Liao, Stephanie Baumberger, Monika Österberg 2021 Sustainable Materials and Technologies

Design strategies, properties and applications of cellulose nanomaterials-enhanced products with residual, technical or nanoscale lignin—A review

Ramakrishna Trovagunta, Tao Zou, Monica Österberg, Stephen S. Kelley, Nathalie Lavoine 2021 Carbohydrate Polymers

Effect of laminin, polylysine and cell medium components on the attachment of human hepatocellular carcinoma cells to cellulose nanofibrils analyzed by surface plasmon resonance

Xue Zhang, Tapani Viitala, Riina Harjumäki, Alma Kartal-Hodzic, Juan José Valle-Delgado, Monika Österberg 2021 Journal of Colloid and Interface Science
More information on our research in the Research database.
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