Student projects

Giving cellulose an identity

A summer project CHEMARTS envisioned how to make the general public aware of Finnish cellulose. Their assignment was to plan a brand for Finnish cellulose, brainstorm future cellulose-based applications and consider how to best communicate information about cellulose to people.

The outcome of the project was the idea for AEREA – a luxury Finnish cellulose brand. It will be the ‘super material of the future from the Finnish forest'.

A total of 17 designs for future cellulose-based applications were developed, the majority of which are clothing. For example, the use of nanocellulose in textiles could enable a piece of clothing to assess the user’s need for vitamins by analysing their perspiration.

At the beginning of the summer, the team asked passers-by in Hakaniemi what the word cellulose brought to mind.  Many of the answers were quite negative, such as a ‘bad smell’ or ‘toilet paper’. Despite the fact that 78% of Finland is covered by forest, not all of the respondents even knew what cellulose is.

The space would provide a spot to enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal made of organic ingredients. It would be a meeting place that would provide information about Finnish cellulose and new opportunities for its use.

‘The purpose of AEREA Forum is to bring cellulose to the people,’ sums up Witikkala.

CHEMARTS is a joint summer project run by the School of Chemical Engineering and the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. The students found the project inspiring, because it provided the chance to see something more than themes related to their own studies.

Watch the video made by the students:

CHEMARTS from Ville Jarvi on Vimeo.

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Wrapping up the world

Packaging can have a tremendous impact on the success of a product. It can enhance user experience, boost sales, and make us fall in love with brands. It has been estimated that packaging has more impact to the consumer's behavior than eight advertising campaigns combined!

Pack-Age is an example of the cross-disciplinary courses combining arts and design with business and chemistry. Last year Pack-Age was focusing on sustainability through material selections, logistics, extended user experience and others.

Pack-age is a project course taught in collaboration by teachers from 4 different schools with different packaging background. Students work in interdisciplinary design teams with real packaging design projects from the industry. Project-based learning is supported by a number theme lectures and workshops.

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An eco-friendly laptop grill

Students at the Department of Chemistry and Materials Science have developed an eco-friendly portable grill, which is modelled on a laptop computer. In December, the seven students of the Advanced Product Design course grilled the first sausages on the laptop portable grill, on which they had worked all autumn.

At the start of the course, the group was given the task of constructing a product from a thin sheet of metal. The group hit on the idea of a portable grill in its brainstorming session. According to the group, a clear demand for the product exists because there are deficiencies in the portable grills available on the market. They are often expensive and heavy and cool down slowly. Many of them are also disposable, which means that they have to be thrown away after use.

The team, named ‘Cool Grill Group’, has developed a product that looks nice, is small and boasts high performance. The main considerations were attractive design and lightweight construction, which allows the device to be carried in a bag. The grill, which was modelled on a laptop computer, weighs a little over two kilos and works with gas, which is a more environmentally friendly fuel than materials such as charcoal.  A small gas bottle of 450 grams is enough for three or four barbecues.  

Rapid cooling is the special feature of this portable grill. About 15 minutes after use, the grill has cooled down so much that you can safely put it in a bag and continue the journey. This is made possible by aerogel, which is used as the insulation material in the device.  

‘The grill has a double bottom, with a five-millimetre layer of aerogel between the two surfaces. Aerogel is a porous material made of silicon oxide, which mostly contains air,’ explains Kirsi Virtanen, the group’s purchasing specialist.   

The group assembled the grill without external assistance and constructed the necessary casing and the burner. The casing was made in the materials processing laboratory using incremental sheet forming. No off-the-shelf burner of sufficiently small size was available and so the group had to improvise by using a pipe section with holes drilled on it. A gas bottle, which was originally supplied with a camping cooker, provides the heat.  

‘The APD project course has lasted all autumn, which means that we have worked on this grill for quite a while and with some thoroughness. After all the effort, it’s really great to have a product in your hands that actually works. It shows that we have succeeded,’ explains Virtanen.  

The group consisted of seven master’s students in material science and engineering with different cultural backgrounds. During the course, they were able to develop their skills in such areas as communications, project management and team work.  

‘APD was very different from the other courses that I have attended in this school. Problem solving skills have been of great use in this project and by making mistakes you remember things better that by just listening to lectures,’ concludes Virtanen.

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Page content by: | Last updated: 29.12.2016.