The 2022 Marcus Wallenberg Prize is awarded to Prof. Ilkka Kilpeläinen and Prof. Herbert Sixta for the development and use of novel ionic liquids to process wood biomass into high-performance textile fibers.
The future demand for textile fibers is growing due to global population growth, among other things. These challenges have led to extensive research on different solvent systems for cellulose to produce regenerated cellulose fibers. Ionic liquids have gained interest as green alternatives for organic solvents in different processes. Ionic liquids are salts that can be melted below 100oC and have unique properties including low vapor pressure, high thermal stability, and high dissolving capability of different organic and inorganic substances.
Man-made cellulose fibers from wood with high technical quality have been developed by 2 research teams in Finland, at the University of Helsinki and at the Aalto University. In this concept, the design and use of novel superbase ionic liquids to process wood pulp into high-performance textile fibers was developed and currently tested for scaling-up.
The team led by Prof. Kilpeläinen at the University of Helsinki developed superbase ionic liquid solvents for dissolution of wood biomass e.g. bleached or unbleached pulp or recycled cellulose pulp. Prof. Sixta and his team, at the Aalto University, developed the ionic liquid-based fiber shaping process based on dry-jet wet spinning.
»This unique collaboration has resulted in novel sustainable concept of textile fiber production from wood. The innovation is expected to result in a large range of new product and business opportunities for the forest industry.«
Johanna Buchert, Chairperson of the Marcus Wallenberg Prize Selection Committee
The Marcus Wallenberg Prize 2022 will be presented by HM the King of Sweden to Professor Ilkka Kilpeläinen and Professor Herbert Sixta at a ceremony in Stockholm in October this year.