Giving cellulose an identity

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  • April 9, 2013

This past summer was a creative time for the six students who worked on the CHEMARTS project. Their assignment was to plan a brand for Finnish cellulose, brainstorm future cellulose-based applications and consider how to best communicate information about cellulose to people.

The outcome of the project was the idea for AEREA – a luxury Finnish cellulose brand. It will be the ‘super material of the future from the Finnish forest’.

A total of 17 designs for future cellulose-based applications were developed, the majority of which are clothing. For example, the use of nanocellulose in textiles could enable a piece of clothing to assess the user’s need for vitamins by analysing their perspiration.

Cellulose awareness on campus?

Nanotechnology-related cellulose research is particularly likely to happen behind closed doors in a laboratory.

Wood product technology student Tiina Witikkala, who worked on the project, states that people often don’t understand how much can be made from cellulose. Few know that one of its by-products is found in vanilla ice cream.

At the beginning of the summer, the team asked passers-by in Hakaniemi what the word cellulose brought to mind.  Many of the answers were quite negative, such as a ‘bad smell’ or ‘toilet paper’. Despite the fact that 78% of Finland is covered by forest, not all of the respondents even knew what cellulose is.

Thus, the team developed a vision for the AEREA Forum. This would be a public space on the new Aalto University campus that is set to open in Otaniemi in 2015.

The space would provide a spot to enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal made of organic ingredients. It would be a meeting place that would provide information about Finnish cellulose and new opportunities for its use.

‘The purpose of AEREA Forum is to bring cellulose to the people,’ sums up Witikkala.

Inspiring new viewpoints

CHEMARTS is a joint summer project run by the School of Chemical Technology and the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. The students found the project inspiring, because it provided the chance to see something more than themes related to their own studies.

‘The motivating element of the project was its multidisciplinary nature. We gained many different perspectives on the same topic,’ says bioproduct technology student Milla-Mari Vastavuo.

Clothing design student Aino Aarnio-Juurinen feels the same way:

‘The project combined wood, clothing and future technology in an interesting way.’

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