The research themes in Treesearch
Treesearch gathers research projects and researchers in the area of new materials from forest resources as a collaboration between universities, institutes and industry. Common to all research within Treesearch is that it primarily is scientific progress aiming at open publication, i.e. a deeper understanding of mechanisms and relationships that can provide the foundation for future material concepts.
Research is based on four thematic research areas where individual projects can cover one or more of the areas. Here you can read more about the four themes.
1. WOOD AND WOOD COMPONENTS – STRUCTURE AND MODIFICATION
Future industrial processes will extract and process more components from wood today’s bulk processes. The necessary process developments can utilize new knowledge of the structure of wood at the molecular level generated through fundamental research, e.g. the major advances in knowledge that have been made in the area of wood formation and biosynthesis, where cellulose fibrils are formed first, followed by infiltration with hemicellulose and lignification. Together with improved analytical methods giving better knowledge of how the various components are distributed in the wood fibre, the knowledge of the structure of wood and wood components is a prerequisite for the development of new methods for extracting wood components as well as new modification methods for wood, bark, wood fibre, cellulose, lignin, hemicellulose, etc.
2. THE Biorefinary for materials and chemical systems
The biorefinery for materials and chemical systems refers to the processes for extracting solid or liquid components for material applications. Examples of components in wood are lignin, hemicelluloses (as components in solution), nanocellulose, cellulose fibres and lignin particles (in solid form). Research in this area needs to be linked to knowledge of how these components are structured (molecular structure), their reactivity and how they are distributed in the cell wall of the wood fibre.
The term chemical system refers to liquid material systems and gels from modified wood components. In order to achieve a successful overall biorefinery process, mechanical, thermal, chemical and enzymatic processes can be combined.
3. Fabrication of LIQUID and SOLID material systems
The concept fabrication of material systems refers to the combination or forming of mono- or multicomponent engineering materials with designed material structure, specific composition and geometric shapes. This includes the application of liquid materials systems in the form of solutions, colloids and suspensions.
Within this theme, activities will be focused on wet and dry processes for fabrication of materials. This includes both processes for new materials as well as radical process improvements of processes for existing materials, such as specific types of packaging materials. The perhaps most important technical challenge to address is the competition from plastic materials in terms of process speed and the possibility to make products with complex geometry.
4. NEW MATERIAL CONCEPTS – MATERIAL DESIGN AND FUNCTIONALITY
The technical aim of New material concepts is to contribute to the development of new engineering materials that will expand the areas of application for wood-based materials. When starting out with new components, such as e.g. fibres, nanocellulose, lignin or hemicellulose, this development will be facilitated through research-generated knowledge, since it will provide necessary data on material properties and technical experience.
The development of material concepts will be driven by the property related goals such as such as improved mechanical properties, barrier properties, moisture resistance or new features (optical transparency, chemical stability, electrical, magnetic, biochemical, etc.). Scientific questions will be related to the principles for design of these new material concepts. This requires research to understand how the material structure is designed to achieve radically improved properties and new functionality.