MAX IV Laboratory has received 100 million SEK from Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation for the investment in a new beamline, ForMAX, designed to serve both academia and industry. The new beamline is tailor-made for solving research questions related to materials from wood and will be a part of the transition to a bioeconomy. ForMAX is part of Treesearch, a national research platform for research and competence building in the field of new materials and specialty chemicals from forest raw materials.
– ForMAX will impact both basic materials science and the application of new materials from the forest, says Aleksandar Matic, professor in physics at Chalmers. From the building blocks and biopolymer derived from wood to new multifunctional biocomposites in a range of applications from new batteries to hygiene products. In particular we hope to develop sample environments so we can follow process and applications in real time, under tensile stress, harsh environment (temperature, pH, humidity), or in a working device.
There is a large interest to develop new material concepts from wood, providing bio-based materials and products with improved properties or even new functionality. Examples of such research: using wood fibers for clothes as a replacement for cotton; wood based plastics and carbon fibers instead of fossil fuel based; nano-cellulose foam as packaging materials or absorbents; increased understanding of existing processes to improve the efficiency or replace chemicals in the process. MAX IV will participate in this development through the ForMAX beamline, which will allow simultaneous structural characterisation from macroscopic to atomic length scales.
– ForMAX will lead to cooperation and strong links between academia and industry, says Magnus Wikström, CTO at BillerudKorsnäs, as we are foreseeing teams where beamline scientists, leading material researchers within Treesearch and industrial experts within R&D are working together.
Daniel Söderberg, acting manager of Treesearch and docent at KTH Royal Institute of Technology agrees: – The collaboration ensures the development of a broad user group which will cover both basic science, for example assembly processes for fabrication of supramolecular components from forest-based resources such as nanocellulose to more applied science, for example the structural development of pulp during cooking. The use of synchrotron techniques has already started within Wallenberg Wood Science Center, which also will be extensively using ForMAX and other MAX IV beamlines in the future.
Kim Nygård is the beamline project manager of ForMAX. – The key will be to provide the right user support and training so users can take advantage of the techniques. Besides a dedicated beamline, ForMAX will also consist of a portal to ease the access of this new user community to MAX IV. The portal will provide, e.g., training, assistance, and access to other beamlines at MAX IV. ForMAX will provide a unique possibility for simultaneous small- and wide-angle x-ray scattering as well x-ray imaging, providing simultaneous structural characterisation from atomic to macroscopic length scales. This is essential when studying hierarchical materials such as wood, which show important structure at many different length scales.
ForMAX is made possible through a concerted effort. The Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation funds the construction of ForMAX. The operational costs of ForMAX are funded through Treesearch, a national platform for research on wood-based new materials initiated in cooperation with academia, industry, private foundations and the Swedish government. For more information on Treesearch, see www.treesearch.se (Swedish only).
The ForMAX project is in its initial stage, the design phase just started. In approximately a year from now the procurement process is expected to begin, after which installation and commissioning awaits. The beamline is expected to available for users in 2022.