Great achievement for GRETE member Professor Ilkka Kilpeläinen

On 7 April 2022 the Marcus Wallenberg Prize 2022 was awarded to Professor Ilkka Kilpeläinen, part of the GRETE consortium with his team at University of Helsinki, and Professor Herbert Sixta from Aalto University for the development and use of novel ionic liquids to process wood biomass into high-performance textile fibres.

From left: Mikael Hannus, The Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, Herbert Sixta, Aalto University, Ilkka Kilpeläinen, University of Helsinki, and Johanna Buchert, The Marcus Wallenberg Foundation. 
Photo: Aalto University, Mikko Raskinen.
From left: Mikael Hannus, The Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, Herbert Sixta, Aalto University, Ilkka Kilpeläinen, University of Helsinki, and Johanna Buchert, The Marcus Wallenberg Foundation. 
Photo: Aalto University, Mikko Raskinen.

Professor Ilkka Kilpeläinen was awarded for designing the most efficient ionic liquids (IL) for cellulose dissolution whereas Professor Herbert Sixta for developing the IL-based-fibre shaping process, the Ioncell fibre process, based on dry-jet wet spinning. The collaboration of the two researchers has led to novel man-made cellulose fibres with high technical quality and a possible new range of products and business opportunities for the wood to textile value chain. 

Kilpeläinen commented that what has been exceptional in achieving this result was teamwork where different parties have been actively involved: not only researchers committing themselves to make things happen, but also industrial partners contributing with their motivation and support. Whereas Sixta anticipated that after the promising results achieved with their small pilot plant built during the pandemic and the high attractiveness for the industry, the university will launch a start-up company in the upcoming weeks. 

Watch the full award announcement including several laboratory footage and the winners’ interview on Youtube.

The Marcus Wallenberg Prize

The main objective of the Marcus Wallenberg Prize is to encourage scientific research in the forest based industry by recognizing, encouraging and stimulating pathbreaking scientific achievements. Nomination period for the 2023 award is open until 30 April 2022: “Candidate” implies an individual or a group of normally 2-4 individuals who have actively cooperated in research leading to a scientific and/or technological achievement that has had or potentially will have a significant impact on forestry and forest products related industries. Any candidate coming to your mind? Nominate here!

In order to disseminate these achievements as much as possible, an online symposium will be held on 11 October 2022, while the Prize will be presented by HM the King of Sweden to Professor Ilkka Kilpeläinen and Professor Herbert Sixta at a ceremony in Stockholm. More information can be found on the Marcus Wallenberg Prize website.

This award confirms the high profile of the GRETE contributors ensuring the relevance and prospected impact of the project outcomes: congratulations from all the consortium members to Professor Ilkka Kilpeläinen and his team!

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