Why is this important: This project will contribute to a Swedish bio-based economy by developing novel sustainable processes for bioactive fiber functionalization, using forest-based resources, for the production of biodegradable materials with high performance. More specific, we will develop wet-stable functionalized fibres from the organosolv process that could replace fossil-based materials in lightweight foams.
Methods we use: We will use the semi-continuous organosolv reactor at LTU to pursue fractionation and isolation of the three main lignocellulose components, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. The next step focuses on the use of a chemo-enzymatic approach for the functionalization of the cellulose and hemicellulose fractions to achieve specific properties, such as water stability. The functionalized fibres will be used to produce foamed materials, using various lab and pilot-scale processing concepts developed at MoRe Research. The foams will be analyzed and evaluated in terms of performance, with a particular focus on wet stability.
Expected results and scientific impact: A chemo-enzymatic fiber modification approach, which combines the flexibility of chemical catalysis and the high selectivity of enzymatic catalysis, is a powerful novel approach to obtain complex modification of carbohydrate fibers. Chemo-enzymatic catalysis has emerged as a global research interest in the modern chemical industry, where fine chemicals are synthesized using biocatalysis,but the use of enzymes for modification of fibers is still unexplored. A holistic zero waste biorefinery approach to produce biomaterials from forest biomass by maximizing the use of all components is required if you aim to create a sustainable biorefinery process. Use of lignin, or its derivatives, as additional components to improve mechanical properties (plasticity, elasticity), hydrophobicity and bioactivity or to be used as novel crosslinking components is a novel approach.