The cornerstone of FibRe is scientific excellence based on strategic industrial needs of Swedish industry. The industrial needs and the jointly assigned boundary conditions (environmental, techno-economical and gender equality) set the framework for the research in FibRe. FibRe generates the strategic fundamental understanding of how lignocellulosic modifications should be conducted to enable replacement of today´s bulk thermoplastics; with expected significant impact on development of materials and processing conditions for the full value-chain of industrial partners in FibRe. The scientific advancements will develop and maintain excellent science, aimed for publications in high ranked peer-reviewed journals and presented at international conferences. The research activities in FibRe will be conducted as PhD-projects, post-doc projects, and support projects to enhance the knowledge-base.
In order to shape materials into products via thermoforming, they must contain a phase that can be deformed by shear forces at elevated temperature. Lignocellulose-based materials cannot be thermo-formed as they cannot withstand a sufficiently high temperature without thermal degradation. Lignocellulose-based materials can achieve thermo-forming properties by substantial chemical modification, however, as a consequence, other mechanical properties are likely deteriorated.
- to retain the mechanical properties of the lignocellulose-based materials while conducting as minimal chemical modification as possible but still accomplish thermo-forming properties
- to use delignified (bleached) kraft pulp and non-delignified agriculture-sourced materials as starting materials.
The core partners and PIs in FibRe have together stated a set of thoughts that can be summarized as:
FibRe envisions that thermoplastic lignocellulosic materials can be achieved by the presence of a phase than can be sheared and we have formulated two hypotheses to achieve such phase:
- Hypothesis 1 - The starting point is lignocellulosic materials with high lignin-content:
A thermoplastic shear plane is created by modification of the intermediate phase between the load bearing elements by e.g. addition of compounds that may modify or swell this intermediate phase.
- Hypothesis 2 - The starting point is bleached wood pulp:
A thermoplastic shear plane is created by chemical modification at the surface of load bearing elements, e.g. fibers, fibril aggregates or fibrils, resulting in no or minimal addition of a thermoplastic carrier material to gain a thermoplastic material.
The research in FibRe will be organized and conducted in three closely connected, interdependent Research Competence Areas (RCAs):
1. Molecular modification
2. Advanced characterization
3. Predictive processing
Each RCA will be led by a RCA-leader, who also is a member of the management team.