Research contributing to increased recycling2022-05-17
Björn Sjöstrand, Senior Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at Karlstad University, was awarded the Young Researcher’s Award 2022 at Forum for Bioeconomy. Björn Sjöstrand’s research aims to create new insights into hornification – a research area with the potential of providing more opportunities for the forest industry to understand the changes in the wood fibres’ capacity to forming strong networks.
- Hornification occurs when the cellulose in the fibre bind to other cellulose chains within the same fibre, says Björn Sjöstrand. This prevents the fibre from swelling and reduces their flexibility. Flexible fibres are important for strength properties when manufacturing cardboard and paper.
There are many benefits to this knowledge, such as for pulp intended for export. In such cases you want to minimise the amount of water in order to reduce the weight and volume, and to increase the durability. But due to the dewatering process, the hornification is increased. The research on hornification can hopefully contribute to new dewatering processes for the industry, which in turn will create more recycling opportunities and improved product characteristics.
Recycled many more times
- The industry is now moving away from the old claim that the fibre can be circulated five to seven times, to the claim that it should be possible to circulate up to twenty-five times. More knowledge about hornification can enable further opportunities for utilisation of the fibre. Products with fewer fibres but that still retain the same level of strength is another possible result of more knowledge, says Björn Sjöstrand. This would be an optimised utilisation of the raw materials.
Research for a circular bioeconomy
Björn Sjöstrand’s research is part of the research environment Pro2BE, Processes and Products for a Circular Bioeconomy, at Karlstad University. Pro2BE conducts research and provides education on the conversion to a bioeconomy based on sustainable and eco-friendly renewable resources, as well as on the development of the forest industry.
- I am delighted that Björn Sjöstrand is awarded with this prize, which is a huge encouragement for a researcher who is still in the early stages of his career, says Agne Swerin, Professor of Chemical Engineering and head of research for Pro2BE. Björn is a very dedicated teacher and researcher. Now, he can make something more of his research efforts since he finished his doctoral thesis two years ago. Björn is a great asset to the research environment at Pro2BE, and I hope that this will be a new, exciting and urgent field of research, which is both based on Björn’s previous findings, but also creates something new.
This is the second time the Gunnar Sundblad Research Foundation is awarding the Young Researcher’s Award. It is awarded a researcher who has been conducting research for a maximum of five years after completing a doctoral degree. The foundation wants to promote the development, innovation and competitiveness of the tree fibre industry. The board of the foundation is appointed by the Swedish Forest Industries.