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Students manufacture jacket from cellulose produced by bacteria

Multidisciplinary expertise from Aalto University was on display at the end of November in Brussels at the paper industry’s European Paper Week.

Students presented the results of the summer 2014 CHEMARTS project on the event's innovation stage. Pieces shown included a jacket and pair of shoes made from cellulose-based materials, as well as material samples.

'CHEMARTS sparked a lot of interest at its stand. The exhibition concept was well-designed, as we were able to both tell about our project and answer questions posed by visitors. This collaboration between students of chemical technology and students of design received praise,’ explained students from the School of Chemical Technology Milla-Mari Vastavuo, who participated in the CHEMARTS project in 2013, and Katja Kortelainen, who participated last summer.

This was the third time that a CHEMARTS project was completed at Aalto. The purpose of the project completed by three students of design and three students of chemical technology was to create tangible products from cellulose materials. During the past two years, the student projects have remained at the conceptual level. The materials used for last summer’s project included nanocellulose, bacterial cellulose, microfibrillated cellulose and aerogel. The project was challenging as all the materials reacted to dampness. Additionally, the materials were previously unfamiliar, which meant it was difficult to predict how they could be handled and how they would behave. 

‘It was a challenge to adapt the materials into nonwoven fabric. When manufacturing the jacket, we were able to combine all the different types of cellulose materials. The successful result, research work on new materials and cooperation with designers was rewarding. We learned from one another,’ the students said.

'The design students were enthusiastic in their laboratory work developing new materials. A new aspect of working with designers was that they wanted something tangible immediately at the start of the project. The design students explained what was needed and the chemical technology students brainstormed on how this could be achieved,' Katja recounts.

New concepts for bioeconomy

The objective of CHEMARTS has been to create new concepts for the future’s bioeconomy by combing design, brand thinking and natural materials science. The core of the project has been formed by student projects, which have generated several different concepts, such as colour-changing textiles, luxury Finnish cellulose brands and the use of recyclable clothing as a material for new 3D-printed products.

The CHEMARTS collaboration expanded in 2013 into a large research opening funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation Tekes. The project, which is titled “Design Driven Value Chains in the World of Cellulose”, is a joint effort between four Aalto University schools, VTT the Technical Research Centre of Finland, and the Tampere University of Technology.

Group of CHEMART: Katja Kortalaine and from ARTS Salla-Maaria Syvänen, Petra Haikonen, Valeria Azovskaya and from CHEM Ling Wang and Janika Lehtonen.

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