Side streams characterization

Mak­ing use of wasted natural re­sources

The extensive use and depletion of natural resources is a strong driving force for us to seek means for decreasing the energy and material consumption, using the existing resources in the most sustainable manner, and advancing the circular economy.

Among the natural resources, polysaccharides hold a major role as extremely abundant, renewable, biocompatible, non-toxic, and highly valuable raw materials. Agricultural crops as well as wood are traditional sources for polysaccharides, the most important in industrial use being starch and cellulose. The utilization of plant biomaterials is currently being intensified: residual plant parts are explored as sources of valorized compounds, and the forestry industry faces conversion into biorefineries that aim at upgrading all material streams to useful products. We characterize hemicelluloses that are a remarkable natural resource but up-to-date are not exploited industrially.

With the advancement of bio-based economies world-wide, enzymes play a key role in biotechnical processing of raw materials as specific tools. Cell biomass that is produced as side stream from enzyme production represents a costly waste burden to factories that employ these bioprocesses, since most lack the technology to utilize the polysaccharide-rich biomass as materials. Our aim is to tackle this problem by isolating and characterizing polysaccharides from fungal cell biomass for further use.

Design of spray dried powders from Finnish wild berries to protect bioactive compounds for healthy and sustainable diet using wood-based celluloses and hemicelluloses

The FinPowder project aims to develop a new strategy to enable sustainable and healthy food choices of global consumers, valorizing Finnish wood-based polysaccharides and wild berries in the production of spray-dried berry powder.

FinPowder team: Abedalghani Halahlah, Kirsi S. Mikkonen, Thao Ho (PI)

Funder: Finnish Natural Resources Research Foundation

Project duration: 30/01/2021 → 30/01/2022

Green route to wood-derived Janus particles for stabilized interfaces

Stabilized emulsions are useful in many industrial processes including drug delivery and food technology. The EU-funded PARTIFACE project aims to develop highly functional stabilizers drawing on sustainable materials such as those derived by biomass. In particular, the project will use two abundant (yet poorly exploited) biopolymers – lignin and hemicelluloses – to produce a novel type of Janus particles called bifacial Janus particles. PARTIFACE researchers expect these tailored wood-based particles, where the two ‘faces’ of a particle have opposite properties, to demonstrate superior capacity for stabilizing emulsion interfaces. Producing such sophisticated hierarchical architectures through sustainable routes will herald a breakthrough in interface and colloid science, contributing to more sustainable use of the Earth’s resources.

PARTIFACE team: Patrícia Figueiredo, Danila Morais de Carvalho, Kirsi S. Mikkonen (PI)

Funder: European Research Council

Project duration: 01/06/2020 → 31/05/2025

Improved gut health by wood-derived gums

The GOOD project will characterize wood hemicelluloses as new nutritional fibers that may deliver bioactive compounds in the body and promote the gut health. The study will evaluate the role of phenolic-rich wood hemicelluloses as part of healthy diet and advance the development of fiber-rich foods.

GOOD team: Emma Kynkäänniemi, Maarit Lahtinen, Anne-Maria Pajari, Kirsi S. Mikkonen (PI)

Funder: Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation

Project duration: 01/01/2020 → 31/12/2022

Liberation and solution properties of wood hemicelluloses towards surface active molecules

With the Nordic consortium, we work towards changing wood hemicelluloses from a waste product to a valuable resource.

Academic project partners: Tiina Nypelö, Chalmers, and Bjørge Westereng, NMBU.

University of Helsinki HEMISURF team: Mamata Bhattarai and Kirsi S. Mikkonen (PI)

Funder: Nordic Forest Research

Project duration:  01/01/2019 → 31/12/2021

Nordic Forest Research (

Re­as­sembly of fungal poly­sac­char­ides for biocom­pat­ible in­ter­faces

We explore fungal biomass as source of valuable components

REPLY team: Ida Nikkilä, Jutta Varis, Zeynep Tacer-Caba, Pauliina Lankinen, Kirsi S. Mikkonen (PI)

Funder: Academy of Finland (Academy Research Fellow project)

Project duration:  01/09/2017 → 31/08/2022

Food lipid in­ter­faces sta­bil­azed by xy­lan- and beta­glu­can -rich cer­eal residues

The FOODLIPS project valorizes agricultural side steams for hydrocolloids.

FOODLIPS team: Anis Arzami, Elli Pulkkinen, Yujie Wang, Fabio Valoppi, Kirsi S. Mikkonen (PI)

Funder: Lantmännen Research Foundation

Project duration:  01/05/2018 → 30/04/2020




Novel bio­mass-based solu­tions for tech­nical emul­sions

We characterize the functionality of wood hemicelluloses as stabilizers in technical emulsions.

Academic project partner: Stefan Willför, Åbo Akademi 

University of Helsinki BITE team: Satu Kirjoranta, Mamata Bhattarai, Mari Lehtonen, Maija Tenkanen, Kirsi S. Mikkonen (PI of the University of Helsinki team)

Funder: TEKES

Project duration: 01/09/2016 → 28/02/2018