Two proposals having origin in FinnCERES have received funding from the Academy of Finland for research on key areas of green and digital transition. The Flagship programme served as an excellent platform for developing the ideas.
The MIMIC project, led by Professors Adam Foster and Peter Liljeroth (Aalto University) and Research Scientist Joni Lehto (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland), will apply a novel microscopy imaging and artificial intelligence infrastructure to visualize individual lignocellulosic building blocks and their assembled structures at an unprecedented resolution. The application potential is in gaining information to improve biorefinery processes - serving in the development of selective dissolution processes for producing purified streams of cellulose, lignin and hemicelluloses. It can also be applied in new technologies for producing natural textile fibers and to reveal the detailed surface structure of lignocellulosic materials, essential for enzyme-aided or chemical modification in biorefineries.
Prof. Monika Österberg (Aalto University), Principal Scientists Anu Koivula (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland), and Pekka Saranpää (LUKE, Natural Resources Institute Finland) head a research project focusing on developing sustainable and scalable surface functionalization methods for cellulosic surfaces by enzymatic means. The ENZYFUNC projectis aiming to gain superhydrophobicity, UV-resistance and antimicrobial activity on surfaces. Enzymes will be used for covalent attachment of fatty acid molecules and natural wax and lignin particles onto surfaces to improve the durability of coatings. The coatings can later on be removed selectively by enzymes, which in turn improves the recyclability of the materials. The approach will combine enzymatic methods with computational modelling and environmental impact estimation that will result in bio-based hydrophobic coatings that are durable, but easy to remove, and a coating technology that will increase the use of cellulose in textiles and packaging.
To read more about the Academy of Finland Green and Digital Transition 2021 call results, visit aka.fi.