In everyday life, the humidity of the air and thus the moisture content of matters have a profound influence on our comfort and the ability to utilise materials. Thus, in NanoHybrids, the development of novel biobased aerogels for moisture absorption has been one of the objectives. The aim is to produce biobased aerogels with high moisture sorption capacity in pilot scale.
RISE Bioeconomy (former Innventia), one of the partner in the NanoHybrids consortium, has been specialized in research, development and innovation on forest raw materials. In the value chain of NanoHybrids RISE Bioeconomy/Innventia represents suppliers of cellulose as raw material. Its research on innovation based on forest raw materials includes the development of cellulose aero/xerogels. Beyond NanoHybrids RISE Bioeconomy plans to build a Swedish research platform for cellulose-based aerogel particles to replace traditional absorbents. Manufacturing could create new product opportunities in large volumes for the forest industry, but in order for it to become reality, increased understanding and knowledge is required.
In the last session of the AEROGELS Seminar, on Wednesday, Fernando Alvaro and Lennart Salmén present current results of their work in NanoHybrids towards production of Cellulose aero/xerogels for moisture sorption.
Fernando Alvarado is a PhD in Wood Chemistry and researcher in the field of new products from forest raw materials, products that could replace many of today’s fossil-based. In spring 2018 he won the Skills Prize from the Gunnar Sundblad Research Foundation.
“In a current EU project (Nanohybrids) we have studied the moisture absorption of cellulose-based aerogels for use in dishwashers. The result is fascinating. Our aerogels have a absorption capacity of 120 percent where other materials reach between 10 and 30 percent,” says Fernando Alvarado.
Assoc. Prof. Lennart Salmén has a longstanding career as a wood scientists with some major stations at STFI-Packforsk, Stockholm, and as an appointed President of the IAWS (International Academy of Wood Science) from 2011 to 2014. Currently he is working at RISE Bioeconomy on wood-based aerogels. Recently he gave a keynote on “The ultrastructural arrangement of the wood cell wall – do we have the full knowledge?” at the Wood Nanotechnology Conference at ETH in Zurich.
Aerogels are porous ultralight materials derived from a gel, in which have been carefully dried. Many research groups use supercritical drying to keeping the aerogel structure intact. The result is a solid with extremely low density and low thermal conductivity. Gels where the liquid is allowed to evaporate at a natural rate are known as xerogels. They often exhibit less porosity and higher density.