News: Archive 2012
Cellulose is an important naturally occurring polymer, which humans have utilized for millennia. Today, researchers are chopping cellulose fibres into nanoforms and looking for solutions for industry's sustainable material needs.
M.Sc. (Tech.) Lauri Rautkari has developed several methods that can be used to improve the properties of for example Finnish tree species, Norway spruce and Scots pine, for the purposes of industrial use. The ecological and inexpensive methods can be compared to mangling or ironing using a steam iron. Compressing the surface of solid wood, such as floor planks, has similar effects as pressing sheets with a mangle.
Carbon capture and storage is a possible solution in reducing carbon dioxide emissions: for example when carbon dioxide is captured from flue gases emitted from power plants it does not go into the atmosphere. In her doctoral dissertation Claudia Dell’Era, M.Sc., from Aalto University's School of Chemical Technology performed phase equilibrium measurements and developed models which can be exploited in the design of separation processes for carbon dioxide removal.
Electric cars will only be driving around city streets in Finland after powerful enough batteries have been developed for them. The batteries must be compatible with future charging networks and the cold climate of Finland. Researchers from Aalto University are seeking a solution to the problem and analysing lithium-ion batteries with the aim to find a model suitable for the conditions in Finland.
In paper machines, breaks always mean financial losses. The better the runnability of a paper machine, the fewer the breaks that occur. Master of Science (Tech.) Markku Ora's doctoral dissertation revealed that the structure of paper affects the runnability of a paper machine. Ora will defend his doctoral dissertation at Aalto University this week.
Since 2007, the Department of Biotechnology and Chemical Technology and Neste Oil have been developing a new oil production method. The microbial oil research project has now reached the point where a pilot plant is being built in Porvoo.
Optimisation of industrial processes requires the ability to understand and predict the phenomena occurring during the actual processes. Computational models make it easier to understand the physical and chemical phenomena occurring between bubbles, particles and droplets – particularly when substances appear in the processes in several different states.
Professors Sami Franssila and Kyösti Kontturi, Visiting Professor Roman Nowak, Teacher-Researcher Lasse Murtomäki and Academy Research Fellow Maria Sammalkorpi have received research funding of a significant amount from the Academy of Finland in the Programmable Material Research Programme application process.
During the last few decades, a large number of novel materials have been produced, enabling the development of new products and the improvement of the properties of old ones. This development shows no signs of slowing down. Composite materials are produced by combining two or more materials to get a composite with desired properties.
Graphene, a one-atom-thick lattice structure formed by carbon molecules is the thinnest possible material, and its discovery in 2004 brought the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2010 to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov. The studies on graphene have multiplied exponentially, one sub-field being the use of graphene as a composite material. This research is also being carried out at the Aalto University Department of Biotechnology and Chemical Technology.
One of the topics studied currently at the Department of Forest Products Technology of the School of Chemical Technology is the use of nanocellulose as reinforcement of polymers such as thermo-plastics. Nanocellulose, or wood fibre broken down to the nanoscale, mixed with a polymer results in a tough material. This purely natural product may replace synthetic petroleum-based fibres commonly used to reinforce composite materials nowadays.
In his dissertation to be defended at Aalto University, Mikko Mäkelä, M. Sc. (Tech.), examined the use of by-products from forest and steel industries as soil amendments. Mixtures containing, e.g., slag from the steel industry and ashes and sludge from the forest industry proved to be promising new soil amendments compared to contemporary commercial options.
In his dissertation, Samuli Räsänen, PhD (Tech) replaced existing elements with others in well-known functional oxide materials, successfully making these more resistant to heat and moisture. The new materials could be suited for use in batteries, catalysers and power plants.
Minna Annala, M.Sc. (Tech.), publicly defending her doctoral dissertation at Aalto University's School of Chemical Technology, prepared in her thesis work three different electrically conductive plastic materials, which are also mechanically strong. Plastic, which is a known insulator, was, with the help of various polymerization techniques and carbon nanotubes, transformed into an electrically conductive form.
Researchers at Aalto University School of Chemical Technology have developed a method for producing lithium batteries that is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than previously used methods. This new process has succeeded in replacing the harmful methylpyrrolidone (NMP) solvent, which is traditionally used in the manufacturing of electrodes, with water.
Researchers at Aalto University have developed a simple method for reducing the amount of phosphorus in the wastewater of a pulp mill. The method is called simultaneous precipitation using iron sulphate. A separate treatment stage is not required, as the precipitation takes place simultaneously with the actual biological wastewater treatment.
In his dissertation for Aalto University and the University of Oulu, Mika Pietilä, M.Sc., discovered new properties in stem cells. He studied human mesenchymal stem cells, or MSCs, and found analysis of their metabolism to be helpful in their identification.
In her doctoral dissertation work, Annukka Santasalo-Aarnio (Licentiate of Science, Technology) developed a new analysis method that provides an excellent tool for direct alcohol fuel cell researchers. The new electrochemical method mimics the operation of a direct alcohol fuel cell electrode and makes it possible to rapidly identify the most promising electrode fuel cell materials for the purpose of further research.