Italy moves to Helsinki

“Having the possibility to study new techniques and to work with a great group in the charming Helsinki is the best experience I could do”. These are words of Giulia Alt, an Erasmus student from the University of Udine (Italy), performing the experimental work for her master thesis in our laboratory. The thesis is focused on the evaluation of the functionality of surface active molecules from grains and on their characterization in terms of chemical composition and properties. Then the study moves forward with the formation and characterization of emulsions stabilized by these plant-based compounds. We also had a chance to taste and enjoy grains in the form of most delicious Italian pizza prepared by Giulia Alt and Fabio Valoppi!

Visitor from Norway

Doctoral student Ragnhild Aaen from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) visits our laboratory to prepare and characterize emulsions as part of the Nordic Forest Research (SNS) –funded WOOD-PRO project. Novel wood-based hydrocolloids may become a future solution for creating structure for food and other life-science applications in a sustainable way. “We are targeting especially the structuring of low-fat food products. If my research is successful, we can develop more healthy and clean-label foods for consumers that prefer natural ingredients”, says Ragnhild.

Networking and collaboration with Luke

Research Scientist, Dr. Petri Kilpeläinen and his colleagues from the Natural Resource Institute Finland (Luke) invited the Food Materials Science Research Group for a visit at Luke’s brand new Bioruukki facilities. We learned how biomass can be extracted in semi-pilot scale using pressurized hot water. Forests, swamps, and industrial side streams are highly interesting sources for valuable components that can be recovered using this method.

After lunch we visited also Luke’s laboratory in Otaniemi, and then had a joint tour at our own facilities in the Viikki Campus. The enjoyable and idea-rich day ended with snacks and networking in our sensory laboratory.

Two interesting events to come:

 “Battle for natural resources” –event @Think Corner

What is the future of our forests, water reserves and minerals? “Battle of natural resources” –event holds three interesting and feisty panel discussion about forest, water, and minerals.

In forest discussion the panellist are Olli Tahvonen, Kirsi Mikkonen, and Anni Arponen. Antti Belinskij, Janne-Markus Rintala, and Suvi Ignatius will discuss water. Anni Huhtala, Kai Kokko, and Petri Peltonen will discuss minerals.

Event will be held at Think Corner at Thursday 19th of April at 5 pm. The event is part of the Hope for Globe event (12.4-25.4).

More information about the event:

The language of the event is Finnish.


Partnerships for sustainable solutions -event @Think Corner

The event will bring researchers and stakeholders together to solve the most instant sustainability challenges through co-creation. The aim is to combine latest academic knowledge to innovations for concrete solutions to sustainability challenges.

In the event Kirsi Mikkonen is pitching about spruce gum and its role of stabilizing food in a sustainable way.

The event is held at Think Corner at Wednesday 16th of May at 2 pm.

Event is in Finnish and registration is needed.

More information about the event:

The event is part of the HELSUS Sustainability Science Days 2018, which will be held as a two-day event from Wednesday to Thursday on 16th-17th May 2018. There are several locations for the event.

Trip to Diamond Light Source Synchrotron

In December 2017, doctoral student Mamata Bhattarai and postdoctoral researcher Fabio Valoppi from the Food Materials Science Group, and postdoctoral researcher Inkeri Kontro from the Department of Physics spent 24 hours at the Diamond Light Source in Oxford (UK).

Diamond Light Source is the UK’s national synchrotron facility comprising more than 30 beamlines for advanced material characterization. The team worked at the B21 beamline under the support of the senior beamline scientist Katsuaki Inoue carrying out small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) analysis on hemicelluloses based emulsions characterizing their interfacial structure.

The team successfully utilized the granted beamtime collecting data from more than 100 scans. The data processing is going on and we expect to obtain crucial information regarding hemicelluloses organization at the oil/water interface. Stay tuned!

Decorating the Spruce of the Future and Finnish gingerbread

#TheSpruceOfTheFuture #Suomi100 #Viikki

The Spruce of the Future was planted in September 2017 at Viikki campus of the University of Helsinki as part of the national tree planting campaign celebrating Finland’s 100 years of independence. The seed of the Spruce of the Future originated from the Independence Spruce which was planted in Kaivopuisto, Helsinki in 1917 when Finland declared independency. FoMSci research group decorated the Spruce of the Future with Christmas lights.

We also baked and decorated some traditional Finnish gingerbread – “piparkakku”. We enjoyed the gingerbread with traditional Scandinavian spicy warm drink Glögi.

FoMSci research group congratulates 100 year old Finland and wishes Happy Christmas.

The original article (in Finnish) of the planting the Spruce of the Future is found at: 

“Future goes to forest” event @ThinkCorner

#TulevaisuusMeneeMetsään #ThinkCorner #Tiedekulma

Finnish market economy, stress relief, buildings, and hemicellulose-stabilized salad dressings – what do these four have in common? The answer is Finnish forests: In history, Finnish forests developed our welfare. It is also scientifically shown that walking in the forest decreases blood pressure. Looking into future: Finnish forests provide construction materials for modern, wooden city apartment buildings.

Wood-based hemicelluloses are produced as a side streams of forestry industry and can be used as emulsifiers or substitute plastics in packaging, and they have major prospects in novel products in different industrial fields. These topics and much more were discussed at the “Future goes to forest” event at the University of Helsinki Think Corner, 7th November 2017. Panellists Niklas Jensen-Eriksen, Marko Leppänen, Kirsi Mikkonen, and Ritva Toivonen valued the idea of forests as sustainable source of welfare.

Hemicelluloses were highlighted as a novel ingredient for packaging films and emulsifiers, obtained from renewable natural resources and potentially used in food, cosmetics, pharmaceutical products, and chemicals. The panellists emphasized that developing innovations is based on years of basic research. After the panel discussion Kirsi Mikkonen showed samples of hemicellulose-based emulsions to the active audience.

Recording of the event (in Finnish) is found at:


Greetings from the historic town of Tulln!

During November 2017, doctoral student Mamata Bhattarai is on a 4-week research visit at the Division of Chemistry of Renewable Resources, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Austria. She works in Campus Tulln, which is located 27 km from Vienna.
Mamata’s research focuses on understanding the associative behavior of spruce galactoglucomannans – spruce gum – and their macromolecular properties in emulsions. The challenge is to characterize heterogeneous galactoglucomannan assemblies that contain phenolic residues.
In BOKU, Mamata learns and develops a method to characterize these assemblies and studies their dynamics over time.

Welcome to FoMSci-Blog!

Welcome to the blog of Food Materials Science Research Group. 

We characterize and valorize polysaccharides, especially those obtained as side streams from various bioprocesses, in food and food contact materials. We are interested in understanding the behavior of polysaccharides in dispersed systems: their gelation and formulation into aerogels, emulsifying properties, and capacity to inhibit lipid oxidation.

This is where we post updates and information about what we’re working on.
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