Research, development and application of cellulose fibers containing materials and products.
Cellulose is one of the most common polysaccharides in the world and can be found almost in every plant. The scientific team of the Laboratory of Cellulose has more than 30 year experience and high competence in obtaining cellulose fibres from different types of biomass.
In the Laboratory, there is a reactor for Kraft cooking as well as wide spectra of equipment for testing of fibres (e.g. dimensions and composition). Various modifications (chemical – e.g. bleaching; mechanical – e.g. refining, milling) of fibres can be done during the implementation of scientific and industrial projects in order to improve the characteristics of fibres or to produce products of further processing, such as microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) or nanocellulose (NC). A patent for obtaining of MCC has been developed in the Laboratory of Cellulose; the process includes combining the thermocatalytic treatment of cellulose and ball milling.
Researchers have been always following the main trends in cellulose science, and now the scientific project “Study of novel method for nanocellulose isolation from biomass and its residues” is being implemented. The main objective of the project is to study the novel method of hydrolytic oxidation for nanocellulose isolation from renewable biomass sources and residues of its processing, as well as the following adaption of the obtained nano-products for reinforcing of innovative bio-nanocomposites. A new microfluidizer has been set up in the Laboratory for producing NC from various biomass-containing cellulose fibres.
Researchers of the Laboratory of Cellulose are involved also in fundamental studies; for instance, a method has been developed for hydromechanical peeling of cellulose fibres. It can be used to divide the fibres in separate layers in order to investigate their processability in different industrial processes.
Although the demand for printable paper is decreasing globally due to the decreasing demand for newspapers and magazines, the production of packaging paper is still increasing.
There is a paper handsheet maker in the Laboratory for developing of paper compositions from virgin fibres as well as from recycled fibres. Equipment for paper testing (mechanical, air permeability, surface and optical properties), as well as a paper coating system, are also available in the Laboratory of Cellulose.
A group of researchers of the Laboratory of Cellulose is dealing with the application of various waste and recycled fibres. One of the scientific directions is the regeneration of cellulose and its practical applications (the project “Regeneration and modification of cellulose for obtaining environment friendly materials” (RenModCell) was implemented in 2017 and 2018).
Researchers of the Laboratory of Cellulose are active in the collaboration with industry and SMEs, which are interested in processing their biomass waste and the development of new high value-added products. The project “Complex processing of the hemp and its products (HEMPWISDOM)” is ongoing; the main activities include the investigation of hemp lignocellulosics and the possibilities of creation of new by-products. The results of the project will be relevant to all the hemp producers.
In recent past, the Laboratory of Cellulose has collaborated with paper producers (paper mill “Līgatne”), with producers of moulded products from recycled cellulose fibres (SIA "VLT"), and also with wood processing enterprises. Investigations are realized in order to solve questions of the industry and develop new products from wood waste; for instance, a wood fibre isolation material was developed from plywood manufacturing wood waste.
Researchers of the Laboratory of Cellulose work in close collaboration with scientists from other countries, presenting their works at international conferences and publish articles in scientific journals.