Liberation and solution properties of wood hemicelluloses towards surface active molecules (HEMISURF)


Coordinator: Tiina Nypelö, Chalmers University of Technology,

Funding: 1 050 000 SEK

Duration: 2019–2021

HEMISURF first meeting: read all about it


Four smiling people standing in front of a large bush. Photo.

From the left: Bjørge Westereng (Norwegian University of Life Sciences), Tiina Nypelö (coordinator, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden), Kirsi Mikkonen and PhD student Mamata Bhattarai (Helsinki University, Finland).


This is the HEMISURF network

This SNS network is finding new ways to use hemicellulose.

Text: Mats Hannerz


Blue layers in different shapes. Illustration.

The plant cell wall. Image: Ladyofhats, CC BY-SA 4.0

Wood contains 20-30% hemicellulose, a polymer which is much smaller than the main component used in pulp production, cellulose. Hemicellulose is, to a large extent, a waste product in chemical pulp processes and is washed out along with lignin and other compounds to become fuel or other energy sources.

However, hemicellulose has properties that could mean that it would be more efficiently utilised in various other applications.

Many ways to use hemicelluloses

Purified hemicelluloses have been tested as films and gels, so far with limited success.

But, it has been shown that hemicelluloses are suitable for use as emulsions and stabilisers. The properties have great potential for cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.

We still need to develop the methods to extract, purify and utilise hemicelluloses.


Three existing projects involving wood hemicelluloses will be combined in the new SNS-supported project. One project in Finland is working on oxidised wood hemicelluloses as film additives, and another on stabilising emulsions. A project in Norway is examining wood prebiotics and will continue in the field of hemicellulose. A Swedish project is working on the oxidation of wood xylans (a type of hemicellulose common in hardwoods).

Being brought together, the existing projects will improve understanding of hemicellulose utilisation. In the long run, the results will help to change hemicellulose from a waste product to a valuable resource.


Project name: Liberation and solution properties of wood hemicelluloses towards surface active molecules (HEMISURF)

Cooperation between: Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), University of Helsinki (Finland), Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Norway) and CH-Bioforce (Finland).


SNS-127 – Annual report 2019 (PDF)




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