Emilia Heinonen

KTH
Chemistry
Project: 1.4.2 Wood Hemicelluloses: Molecular Structure and Interactions in Woody Tissues
Supervisor: Francisco Vilaplana
Project planned to end: 03/2023

Research area:

The main goal of my PhD project is to understand how the structural complexity of hemicelluloses is linked to their properties and to the recalcitrance of wood. First I isolate and characterize xylan and mannan fractions from birch, spruce and eucalyptus utilizing advanced chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques. Parallel to the studies on extracted hemicelluloses, I will utilize molecular modelling to understand, on the atomic level, the effect of the substitutions on the polymer conformation and further on the preferred interaction of varying hemicellulose structures with cellulose surfaces. The target is to correlate the fundamental molecular level understanding from the simulations with the experimentally observed properties of pure hemicelluloses to accurately describe the structure and function of hemicelluloses.