Nanotechnologies to Advance the Carbohydrate-based Society


Lignin and cellulose are sustainable polymers that offer significant opportunities in our transition from a hydrocarbon to a carbohydrate society. Plant cell wall fractionation into materials with sizes in the nanoscale track with phenomena that occur at the fiber level, during digestion and refining. The resultant nanomaterials, based on cellulose and lignin, can be conveniently recombined into bioproducts that display interesting synergies, as multicomponent and multifunctional materials. These aspects will be discussed in terms of their mechanical, optical, thermal, and conductive properties. The paradoxical nature of the papermaking, where water is a key element, leads to one of the most important inventions in the history of civilization. Are nanocellulose and nanolignins the next generation materials in the upcoming material revolution? In this webinar we explore the scientific principles behind papermaking and their relationship with nanocellulose, nanolignins and ligno-nanocelluloses, all of which can be integrated for unconventional applications, as sustainable technological materials. Together, they offer research opportunities for addressing global challenges. Translation of such research opportunities, to create impact, will only be possible by concerted efforts involving research across borders, by initiatives such as the Boreal Alliance that bridges several continents. We will illustrate some associated impacts that have incorporated collaborations with industry.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Appreciate the impact of lignin in cellulose-based materials
  • Connect fibrillation processes with those that are typical in papermaking, enabling a better understating of the fractionation of components (size and chemical composition) upon physical separation
  • Identify the many opportunities that exist in the synthesis of advanced materials
  • Learn about supraparticle design
  • Learn about some organizational models that advance research and development in the area, to create a societal impact

Who Should Attend:

Researchers, Teachers, Engineers and Managers from university, forest products industries, textiles and energy companies.


Canada Excellence Research Chair, Departments of Chemical & Biological Engineering, Wood Science and Chemistry, The University of British Columbia, Canada.

Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems, Aalto University, Finland.

Professor Orlando Rojas received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from Auburn University followed by an appointment as Senior Researcher in the Royal Institute of Technology, KTH and the Institute for Surface Chemistry, YKI, both in Stockholm. He was professor (2004-2014) in the Department of Forest Biomaterials and Chemical and Biological Engineering of North Carolina State University. He is visiting professor in Aalto University’s Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems.  Currently, Professor Orlando Rojas is a Canada Excellence Research Chair under a program that supports world‑renowned scientists to establish ambitious research in Canada. He is Director of the Bioproducts Institute, a cluster with ca. 40 professors of University of British Columbia (UBC) with shared interest in the area. In UBC, he shares affiliation with the departments of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Wood Science and Chemistry. He is Distinguish Professor in Nanjing Forestry University, Dalian Polytechnic University, and South China University of Technology.

Prof. Rojas is recipient of the Anselme Payen Award, one of the highest recognitions in the area of cellulose and renewable materials. He is an elected as Fellow of the American Chemical Society (2013), the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters (2017) and recipient of the Tappi Nanotechnology Award (2015).  Prof. Rojas is research PI of the Finnish Materials Bioeconomy flagship (FinnCERES) with the mission to harness the natural properties of lignocellulose to create new sustainable materials. He was co-PI of the Academy of Finland's Center of Excellence in Molecular Engineering of Biosynthetic Hybrid Materials Research, HYBER. Prof. Rojas most recent research grants include the prestigious European Research Commission Advanced Grant (ERC-Advanced) and a Horizon H2020 project, among many others.

During his career he has advised 42 postdoctoral fellows, 57 PhD and 37 MS students and has hosted 114 international visiting scholars and professors. He has published over 420 peer-reviewed papers (h-index=72, > 24000 citations, GS). Together with his research group, Bio-based Colloids and Materials, Prof. Rojas mission is to support global sustainable development through research on the fundamental and utilization aspects of renewable resources, including areas related to colloid and surfaces of lignocellulose, proteins and other biopolymers.  In this area, he introduced groundbreaking developments related to films and particles derived from polysaccharides and polyphenolic compounds and their integration in lightweight materials and multiphase systems.

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