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KTH researcher rewarded for new type of cellulose pulp

 Yuanyuan Li shakes hands with King Carl XVI Gustaf.
Yuanyuan Li receives the Gunnar Sundblad Research Foundation Competence Development Award from Carl XVI Gustaf. Photo: Carl Moser, Swedish Forest Industries
Published Apr 21, 2023

Yuanyuan Li, Assistant Professor at KTH, receives this year's Competence Development Award from the Gunnar Sundblad Research Foundation. The prize of SEK 700,000 goes to her research into a new type of cellulose pulp that can have a major impact on bio-economy.
“I am so happy and honored to get this award,” says Yuanyuan Li.

Yuanyuan Li's research project involves developing a new type of cellulose pulp, called Aero-Pulp. The production requires a fundamental understanding of wood nanostructure and technology for nanostructure control – which is a focus of the project.

“The Aero-Pulp combines ordinary pulp fibers, with a length of a few millimeters, with nanocellulose that is only one thousandth the size. Due to this combination, the pulp has strong water absorption and good insulating ability,” says Yuanyuan Li .

Yuanyuan Li.
Yuanyuan Li. Photo: Carl Moser

Enhanced properties

The new pulp has enhanced properties that cannot be achieved with pulp fibers alone. Potentially, it can be used for hygiene products, transparent films, super thermal or sound-insulating products, as well as water or air filters.

“The Aero-Pulp fills the gap between normal pulp fiber and nanocellulose for advanced material design with immense potential. The knowledge obtained can contribute to the development of the Swedish pulp and paper industry's transition towards improved and new products and services. The impact on the bio-economy is significant,” says Yuanyuan Li.

"The prize gives me more freedom"

The Gunnar Sundblad Research Foundation's annual Competence Development Award has been awarded since 2007. The fund's board is appointed by the Swedish Forest Industries and the goal of the award is to promote the development of the Swedish pulp and paper industry.

“The prize gives me more freedom and opportunities to conduct my research and create contacts with the industry. This is also recognition of my work by the experts in the field and motivates me to continue doing excellent research,” says Yuanyuan Li.

Text: Jon Lindhe

Photo: Carl Moser, Swedish Forest Industries

Read more about the award: The Gunnar Sundblad Research Foundation