The search is on for lightweight, high-strength, multifunctional materials and high-performance biocomposites that could provide sustainable alternatives to plastics. Nearly 300 million tonnes of plastics are produced annually, of which millions of tonnes end up in the environment, harming marine life and other ecosystems. The amount of microplastics in the oceans has exploded. It has been estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans, with significant ecological repercussions. Additional challenges include CO2 emissions originating from plastics production and incineration.
Lignocellulose offers one sustainable alternative to plastics, with similar or often better properties. In efforts to reduce the use of plastic, FinnCERES is currently working on enabling bio-based, biodegradable and low-cost production of materials with desirable mechanical and functional properties.
Right now, some of our projects in this field include creating high-performance materials combining nanoscale bio-based building blocks, developing complex cellulosic structures for consumer applications, and formulating bio-based 3D printing materials.