New biomaterials can solve the challenges of sustainable development
Wood cellulose has the potential to be a future super material that can replace fossil raw materials such as plastic and man-made fibers or even cotton. In Finland's extensive and multidisciplinary Design Driven Value Chains in the World of Cellulose (DWoC) research project, new applications have been sought for cellulose. The project has resulted innovations and business models, especially for the needs of the small and medium-sized businesses in housing and textiles, construction and architecture, as well as health and wellbeing.
'The challenges of sustainable development simply force us to do things differently. Research has been made around the world for some time, but we have now managed to find functional materials and technologies that make the change possible. The results of our research project, based on new biomaterials, are a major opening worldwide. Finland has the potential to be a true force for change in the future of materials', says Professor Pirjo Kääriäinen from Aalto University.
The research project has developed new types of biodegradable materials. Photo: Eeva Suorlahti
The DWoC research project, which has been running since 2013, aims to accelerate the transformation of the Finnish forest industry into a dynamic ecosystem of bio-economy and
increase the use of cellulose especially in high-value products. The research project has combined the expertise of designers, architects, material scientists and business professionals. At the same time, a strong network of biomaterials has emerged in Finland.
The research project has developed new types of biodegradable materials, tested the 3D printing of cellulose by various methods and developed new manufacturing technologies such as foam forming and paper recycling into textile fibers. It has resulted product concepts and ideas along with promising technological innovations. During the project, for example, biodegradable shoes and a bicycle made partly of nanocellulose were demonstrated, as well as a yarn directly printed out of cellulose pulp, manufactured by Spinnova Oy, that started up in early 2015 based on the innovation.
The research partners of the project are Aalto University, Tampere University of Technology TUT, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd and the University of Vaasa. The five-year strategic research project, funded by Tekes for 7.9 MEUR will expire in March 2018.