Suberin from Bark Could Replace Plastic

Bark contains suberin, a strongly hydrophobic polymer. In nature its task is to keep the interior of trees dry. However, could suberin could perhaps also be used industrially manufactured cellulose material water-repellent. Researchers today are looking at possibilities for grafting suberin onto cellulose surfaces.

 

“Suberin is available in tree bark in relatively large quantities, which increases our chances of finding industrial applications for the material,” says Mikael Lindström, researcher at Innventia.

In a project at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, researchers have been creating a model for integrating ‘bark bio-refinery’ into today’s pulp mills. The bark is burned in a bark boiler as before, but before that, it is emptied of valuable chemicals such as suberin. The project has received funding from the EU, Vinnova and a number of Swedish forest industry companies.

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