Renewable Sources for Advanced Fibres and Materials
Canada Excellence Research Chair in University of British Columbia and Director of the Bioproducts Institute.
Professor Orlando Rojas is a Canada Excellence Research Chair in University of British Columbia and Director of the Bioproducts Institute. In this latter role, he synergizes a distinguished group of professors and researchers conducting multi- and cross-disciplinary research to create fundamental knowledge and applications, from seed genetics to cutting-edge biorefining technologies, from thermochemical and bio-conversion pathways to novel bio-based products. He shares affiliation with the departments of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chemistry and Wood Science. His research group, Bio-based Colloids and Materials operates between Vancouver (UBC) and Helsinki (Aalto University).
Prof. Rojas received the Anselme Payen Award, established by the American Chemical Society in 1962, the highest recognition in the area of cellulose and renewable materials. He is an elected Fellow of the American Chemical Society (2013), the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters (2017) and recipient of the Tappi Nanotechnology Award (2015). Prof. Rojas is co-lead of the national competence center to advance the Finnish materials bioeconomy, the FinnCERES Flagship, between Aalto University and the Finnish Research Center (VTT). Prof. Rojas is past-chair of Aalto’s Materials Platform and co-PI of the Academy of Finland's Center of Excellence in Molecular Engineering of Biosynthetic Hybrid Materials Research, HYBER.
During his career Prof. Rojas has advised 50 postdoctoral fellows, 61 PhD and 50 MS students. He has also hosted 112 international visiting scholars and professors. With a h-index of 73 and 27000 citations (Google Scholar), he has authored about 430 peer-reviewed papers and a larger number of conference contributions related to the core research, mainly dealing with nanostructures from renewable materials and their utilization in multiphase systems.
We introduce eco-friendly processes to dramatically simplify microfiber fabrication from biobased materials. The microfibers are produced by dry and wet-spinning using aqueous systems, which provide rapid coagulation of hydrogel precursors, including those comprising wood-derived lignin and cellulose nanofibrils. The thermomechanical performance of the obtained filaments is investigated as a function of cellulose nanofibril orientation (WAXS), morphology (SEM) and density. We discuss several examples related to applications in the area of wearables and stimuli-responsive materials. We also introduce carbon filaments obtained with remarkably high yield to achieve electrical conductivity, making them suitable for microelectrodes, fiber-shaped supercapacitors and wearable electronics. Overall, the cellulose nanofibrils can be used to synthesize structural elements for fast, inexpensive and environmentally sound wet-spinning.