VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a method that opens up new opportunities for the use of lignin-containing wood fibres and other natural fibres as well as fibre products. The method offers an innovative, environmentally friendly approach to customize or even to introduce completely new properties - such as moisture repellency or electric conductivity - to fibre-containing products.
The new chemo-enzymatic modification method of fibre materials enables manufacturers to better tailor the fibre properties according to the desired end product. The method can be used to enhance the original properties or even to introduce new properties to lignin-containing fibre materials. To achieve the desired modification, suitable chemical compounds are attached to the material in a chemical or enzymatic process.
Wood fibre products are moisture absorbent by nature. The new method makes it possible to control the moisture resistance properties of lignin-containing fibre materials even to a degree where they become water-resistant. This opens up new opportunities for the use of wood fibres e.g. in the packaging industry.
Manufacturers in branches of industry such as the biocomposites, building and speciality paper and packaging industries, utilising materials containing lignocellulosic fibres in composite structures, can benefit from VTT's method for developing various product properties. For example, the process can be used to make antistatic filter papers.
VTT's chemo-enzymatic method differs from the available chemical modifications in its surface targeted and gentle action. It can also easily be integrated in existing manufacturing and finishing processes of fibres and fibre materials.
"Chemo-enzymatic fibre modification creates new opportunities for the processing of existing fibre products and for manufacturing innovative, tailored fibre products in the paper and packaging process. In the future, tailored wood fibres may present a viable alternative for example to synthetic fibres in various industrial composites," says Anna Suurnäkki, Senior Research Scientist at VTT.
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