Researcher: Pasi Korkalo, Research Scientist. M.Sc. (Chemistry), Natural Resources Institute Finland

Supervisor: Tuula Jyske, Senior Scientist, D.Sc., docent (Agr & For), Natural Resources Institute Finland

Researcher Pasi Korkalo

 

Background of the project

Novel bioeconomy approaches call for more and faster production of lignocellulosic biomass and its better-tailored holistic use for higher added-value. Hybrid aspen (Populus tremula x tremuloides Michx.) is one of the fastest growing tree species in Finland. High-yield capacity and chemical properties of aspen indicate its promising potential for biochemicals and green energy.

Aims of the project

We study chemical properties of hybrid aspen clones for production of added-value chemicals. We concentrate on aspen bark as under-utilized raw material. By using extraction and thermochemical distillation, chemical substances are separated for case-studies (Figure).

Figure: Comprehensive utilization of hybrid aspen wood and bark.

How the project will promote sustainable use of Finnish natural resources

To remain competitive in future bioeconomy, the Finnish forest sector must come up constantly with novel products. Hybrid aspen has potential to become more important raw material in Finland, especially as the climate change forces a broadening of the selection of commercially utilized tree species. Our project promotes comprehensive utilization of aspen biomass. Aspen bark may provide an alternative source for fossil-based chemicals.

Expected results and deliverables

Project provides forest industries and future biorefineries a knowledgebase on hybrid aspen biomass, especially under-utilized bark, and its potential for added-value applications / template chemicals:

1) catalytic conversion of wood-derived substances into valuable bulk chemicals
2) application of suberin acids in coatings
3) and use of acidic distillates for plant protection