Wood is composed mainly of cellulose (40-50 %), hemicellulose (15-30 %) and lignin (15-30 %). Paper and cardboard is mainly made form cellulose, which consists solely of glucose. Hemicelluloses are branched molecules consisting of several different sugars. The goal of the new biorefinery concept is to utilize hemicelluloses and lignin more efficiently for value added products. The current project focuses on the controlled extraction and further utilization/conversion of hemicelluloses for the benefit of the alimentary, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.
The new extraction method developed at Åbo Akademi University enables the production of the novel substrates. The interdisciplinary work, bridging different fields of chemistry and chemical engineering, is planned to be carried out in collaboration with pioneers in their field at the Department of Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki (UH).