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Student Blog posts

Person behind a white protective fabric in a forest

SBARK – Shield of Spruce in Biodesign Challenge 2020

By | News, Student Blog posts
Where: Online presentation 

When: 16.6.2020 10:00-10:15 am (Eastern Standard Time)

SBARK – Shield of Spruce is a project where spruce bark’s protective compounds are used to create an enhanced fabric. Spruce bark is exceptional in a range of trees because of its phenolic compounds, such as stilbenes, which provide protection against both UV-radiation and microbes.

By extracting protective compounds from bark and embedding them into man-made cellulose fibers, we answer the demands of the changing world in a sustainable way with lightweight, UV-protective and antibacterial fabric for different kinds of applications.

As the end result we present a speculative outcome, SBARK fabric, where the precious materials from spruce are transformed to function as a protection for humans.

Antimicrobial and UV-protective properties are generally added to fabrics to protect human users and prolong the life of textiles. Those properties are often achieved by applying heavy metal nanoparticles to fabrics, which are causing a threat towards water security as a heavy metal pollution.

Trend forecasts indicate consumers are going to demand more hygiene and personal protection from materials and products in a world after the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, we wanted to find a local, natural and sustainable alternative for heavy metal nanoparticles.

Natural stilbenes are also strong blockers of UV radiation. Studies have shown these compounds to be comparable to commercial sunscreens in their UV absorptive capacity. This embedding of SBARK extract enables the creation of lightweight and breathable UV protective clothing for warm climates: shielding its user from harmful rays, as well as preserving vibrant colors and fiber integrity.

Around 70% of Finland’s land area is covered by forests. Norway spruce (Picea abies) is the second common tree in Finland and its stemwood is used in the forest industry to make timber, wood products and pulp. A single mill site in Finland may produce more than 50,000 tons of pure spruce bark in a year, which is now mostly used just to produce energy despite bark’s valuable compounds. Our team explored how to utilize this side stream in a more effective way.

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