Anders Palmqvist
Anders Palmqvist, vice president for research and professor of materials chemistry at Chalmers, is very pleased with the large funding allocation to materials science.
​Image: Anna-Lena Lundqvist

Major research initiative on materials science

​The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation is funding just over SEK 3 billion in materials science research for a sustainable world. The purpose is to reduce environmental and climate footprints from the materials we use in our day-to-day lives and industry, which is a necessity to be able to achieve set climate and environmental goals.
​The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation is now allocating SEK 2.7 billion during the period 2022 – 2033 to a new research program named Wallenberg Initiative Material Science for Sustainability (WISE). The aim of the research program is to create the conditions for a sustainable society by researching next generation of ecofriendly materials and manufacturing processes. This will also facilitate better technology for energy systems of the future, and to combat pollution and toxic emissions.

In parallel with this funding, the Wallenberg Wood Science Center, which was established in 2009 with the aim of developing new innovative materials from the Swedish forest, will receive an increased grant of SEK 380 million.

“It is incredibly exciting that KAW has chosen to invest in sustainable materials science in this forward-looking way. Chalmers has long conducted outstanding research in this area, and we will be able to contribute to the new initiative with a broad knowledge base. We will be able to take advantage of the new opportunities and strengthen our national collaborations and contribute to strengthening Sweden as an advanced materials development nation together with our strategic partners in the field,” says Anders Palmqvist, vice president for research and professor of materials chemistry, at Chalmers.

Wallenberg Initiative Material Science for Sustainability

Every year a vast quantity of raw materials is extracted across the world. These are mainly metals, minerals, fossil fuels and biomass. Today most of the extracted materials are non-renewable, placing a heavy burden on the environment, societies, and climate. Global production of materials accounts for a large proportion of the total emissions of greenhouse gases, and the production of metals requires a lot of energy.
 
To meet these challenges, the Wallenberg Initiative Material Science for Sustainability research program focuses on four areas: conversion, storage and distribution of clean energy; circular materials replacing rare, energy-demanding, and hazardous materials; mitigation, cleaning and protection of atmosphere, soil, and water and discovery of materials for novel sustainable technologies.
 
“To meet climate and environmental targets industry needs to transition towards sustainability at a swifter rate. For this reason, the research program will be conducted in collaboration with Swedish industry in the form of industrial PhDs and postdocs, and also via research arenas allowing an exchange of knowledge and problems between academia and private enterprises. Industry acquires knowledge generated by research in materials science, and researchers gain insights into the technological and application challenges faced by companies,” says Sara Mazur, director strategic research at Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and chair of the program.
 
“We aspire to establish Sweden as a leading nation in this research field. The overall aim is to facilitate sustainable technologies and to educate the leaders of tomorrow in society, industry and academia,” explains Peter Wallenberg Jr.

Extended grant to Wallenberg Wood Science Center

Wallenberg Wood Science Center was founded in 2009 with the aim of developing new innovative materials from the Swedish forest. Chalmers has participated since the start and can today include researchers from five different departments.
 
“Being part of this multidisciplinary center with a graduate school that has a strong educational program has meant a lot to the researchers. Collaboration across disciplinary boundaries has contributed to new cutting-edge research. At Chalmers, the ability to characterize biomass and developed material have been deepened and new process concepts established. Among other things, we have worked with advanced methods at the ForMAX beam-line at MAXIV in Lund,” says Lisbeth Olsson, professor in industrial biotechnology at Chalmers and co-director at WWSC.
 
Lisbeth Olsson
With the increased grant, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation has now funded a total of just over SEK 1 billion in research within WWSC. The grant will support research of renewable materials within the program "New materials from trees for a sustainable future".
 
“It’s fantastic that KAW has decided to continue and expand its funding for the Wallenberg Wood Science Center. It’s incredibly valuable for Chalmers researchers that we can continue the work. The clear focus on sustainable materials provides even greater opportunities to solving the major societal challenges,” says Lisbeth Olsson.
 

Peter Wallenberg Jr
Replacing oil with wood in the manufacture of plastics, creating stronger and fireproof materials, as well as new functional materials are some of the goals of the Wallenberg Wood Science Center. The funding has, among other things, resulted in transparent wood and paper that has been made magnetic, electrically conductive, and fire-resistant. Other examples are bio-based plastics, adhesives, and porous materials.
 
“This long-term research initiative is intended to make possible a more sustainable future, to make the Swedish forest sector more competitive, and to pave the way for new enterprises based on innovations in this field,” says Wallenberg Jr.
 
Images:
Lisbeth Olsson; Thor Balkheden
Peter Wallenberg Jr; Samuel Unéus

More information

The universities participating in WISE are Uppsala University, Lund University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Chalmers University of Technology, Stockholm University and Linköping University, which is also hosting the program. Under the program, 25 international research teams will be recruited, and a postgraduate school will be established, offering 180 PhD positions, 30 of them industrial PhD students, along with 180 postdoctoral positions, of which 30 will be industrial postdoctoral positions.
 
The expansion of Wallenberg Wood Science Center program, which is being conducted at Chalmers, KTH and Linköping University, means that six research leaders, 18 PhD students, and the same number of postdocs can be recruited, along with four visiting professors.

Contact

Wallenberg Initiative Material Science for Sustainability

Wallenberg Wood Science Center

Page manager Published: Wed 05 Jan 2022.