The Finnish Natural Resources Research Foundation presented its annual award for best doctoral thesis to Mamata Bhattarai, who completed her doctoral thesis at the University of Helsinki. The thesis studies the use of hemicelluloses, a constituent of wood little utilized as yet.


’Hemicellulose has a huge potential for use,’ says researcher Mamata Bhattarai                                                                     

‘Hemicellulose can be used to replace both vegetable  and animal raw materials in both foodstuffs and cosmetics, as well as pharmaceuticals.  The potential of this raw material is also being explored for the manufacturing of solar cells and bio-based packaging films.’

Bhattarai herself is interested in the use of hemicellulose as a stabilizer in various emulsions found in foods, such as yoghurt and salad dressings. For her thesis she studied the hemicellulose, or the galactoglucomannans, found in spruce, and the action of spruce gums extracted using different methods.

Mamata Bhattarai says that Finland provides excellent opportunities for both researchers and research. She believes that the findings in her thesis can be used in many further studies and future product development. About one quarter of wood consists of hemicellulose, with the rest being made up of cellulose and lignin.

’The extensive potential of lignin as raw material has only been utilized by industry for a few years. Now that the number of bioproduct mills is increasing, I believe that new research will also make them interested in the use of hemicellulose,’ says Bhattarai.

Award announced today will be presented annually

The new award for a doctoral thesis was established by the Finnish Natural Resources Research Foundation. The award of EUR 10,000 was now presented for the first time, and thirteen high-quality, at a Finnish university in 2020 approved doctoral theses were proposed for it. The award, to be distributed annually, will support the foundation in its mission to fund research into Finland’s natural resources.

’The purpose of the award is to encourage young researchers to focus on promoting the sustainable use of Finland’s natural resources,’ says Professor Pekka A. Nurmi, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Finnish Natural Resources Research Foundation.

The foundation considers that Mamata Bhattarai’s doctoral thesis, Associative behavior of spruce galactoglucomannans in aqueous solutions and emulsions, presents an innovative way of promoting Finland’s forest-based circular bioeconomy.

’The thesis explores the use of spruce gum in a way that has great industrial and commercial potential. Of particular interest is the use of hemicellulose in food production,’ says Nurmi regarding the grounds for the award.

Finland has significant forest and mineral resources, offering natural opportunities for advanced bioeconomy and mineral economy. Circular economy, resource-efficient methods, new materials and cutting-edge technologies all contribute to a sustainable utilization of natural resources The further development of all these factors requires research, innovations and breakthroughs related to natural resources, and it is the mission of the Finnish Natural Resources Research Foundation to promote this by funding.

Further information:

Professor Pekka A. Nurmi, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Finnish Natural Resources Research Foundation, tel. +358405045236

Mamata Bhattarai, Postdoctoral Researcher, Aalto University,, tel. +358505996091