Transdisciplinary interaction and top-level expertise combined – this is what the new Aalto Sustainability Hub is all about

Creating a systemic change – not less – is where Sustainability Hub’s research community aims at.

Prof. Monika Österberg presented her research on sustainable use of wood-based materials.  

The first lively seminar session opened insights into School of Chemical Technology’s work in various fields of sustainability research.

“We want to combine our efforts in different disciplines and build new and exciting collaboration between individual researchers and projects”, says Professor Minna Halme the academic director of the newly established Aalto Sustainability Hub.

The first research seminar of the Hub was held in Otaniemi on September 27. School of Chemical Technology was the first school of Aalto to present a wide range of interesting results from various researchers and research projects - for example in wood building, nanoparticles and energy production from waste heat.

CHEM presentations were started by professor Maarit Karppinen highlighting recent research topics and results from her research group.  She showed various ways on how novel next generation energy technology materials, based on earth-abundant elements, help to combat use of scarce materials. For example, thermoelectric materials help to recover waste heat to electricity - this is remarkable as currently 60% of primary energy is lost as waste. These materials could be even our clothing in the future.

Professor Mari Lundström continued by explaining how her research group develops technologies to recover very small concentrations of valuable metals such as silver from urban ores for further use. In addition, the group develops cellulocic coating of metals, which helps to reduce use of mined metals and decrease corrosion, thus prolonging lives of metals products.

Further professors Mark Hughes, Monika Österberg and Orlando Rojas' presented their research that focuses on how to make more sustainable use of wood and wood-based materials in our lives. For example, they study how wood as construction material can lower direct heating need, and what non-renewables can be replaced by wood. They also develop novel coating materials from wood that allow wood surfaces to retain its breathability, but still buffer moisture.

The first seminar aroused lively discussion of the importance of “the big picture” of sustainability instead of a narrow lens. Many participants pointed out that without a dialogue with the broader research community and support from other fields, researchers can end up creating unsustainable solutions.

Prof. Minna Halme presents Sustainability Hub's core idea in three Cs: Circular economy, co-creation and campus as a living lab. 

“I hope all researchers of Aalto with an interest in sustainability will join this seminar series and work of the Sustainability Hub. The next session will dig into the business perspective – bringing sustainability innovations into business models, sustainability from finance perspective, and systems transitions to smart and sustainable energy, as well as other contemporary topics”, Halme says.

The seminar series is to be held monthly in Learning center at Otaniementie 9. The next sessions are on Oct 26 at 14-16 and Nov 30 at 14-16.

More information:

Presentations in Aalto Sustainability Hub Wiki

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