VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd is hopping across the pond - and a little bit further - to Brazil, to attend and have the pleasure of presenting at one of the oldest and most established events in the field of biomass utilisation and bioeconomy in the world. 

On its maiden trip to South America, the 19th International Symposium on Wood, Fiber and Pulping Chemistry (ISWFPC) is taking place from 30th August to 1st September, and will be covering topics such as: chemistry, fibers, pulping, fossil energy, energy, renewable energies and biorefinery.

To a gathering of renowned international experts and relevant researchers and process engineers, Rehap project partners VTT will be presenting at ISWFPC on the influence of softwood bark origin on tannin recovery by hot-water extraction.

The presentation, led by principle scientist at VTT Tarja Tamminen, is based on master’s student Miikka Ruuskanen’s thesis written as part of the Rehap project, The influence of the origin and treatment history of spruce and pine bark on the extraction of tannin, and is set to be an interesting topic for discussion.

We spoke to Tarja about what to expect at ISWFPC.

Have you attended this event before?

Yes, I think I have been to most of them and I also personally know more than half of the presenters at the event, so I am really looking forward to going there and seeing what the presentations are about this year. Up until 10 years ago the event was more focused on pulping as that is what biorefinery was when the event began, and so now it has broadened into different kinds of uses of biomass, but with the main focus centred on wood chemistry. This means looking at ways to exploit the use of wood in a chemical sense – not construction – through chemical modifications to make other wood or wood components and wood fractions.

What will you be presenting on?

Continuing on from what I just said about the conferences’ main focus being on wood, in Rehap we are working with bark. Currently, making pulp and paper is where the value of the biomass product comes from but when you make pulp and paper you need to separate the bark from the wood. This creates a bark side-stream, which is where Rehap comes in. It would be beneficial for the industry to find higher value for the bark side-stream and so at VTT we have been developing methods to extract tannins out of wood bark to improve the valorisation of the value chain from bark side-streams. This is where we hope our presentation will offer interesting results for anybody working with wood or its value chain.

Which presentations would you recommend to those interested in the work of Rehap?

To name a few:

  • “Valorisation of lignocellulosic biomass residues via hydrothermal treatment and carbonisation” – this is on softwood bark which is one of the raw materials in the project and the presentation will include characterisation methods and data
  • “On the reactivity of lignin-carbohydrate complexes (LCCs) under pulping and biorefining conditions” – LCCs are also present in Rehap raw materials and fractions
  • “Measurement of leaf lignin of a Japanese oak tree (Quercus crispula) by a combination of methoxy determination with alkaline nitrobenzene oxidation and its application” – a poster on the challenges for determining lignin in the presence of tannin. VTT has also developed a method based on methoxyl content for the bark samples.