Mika Sipponen to receive an ERC Starting Grant on lignin research!

Mika Sipponen has been awarded a prestigious ERC Starting Grant worth EUR 1.5 million for the project Circular lignin materials from well-defined functional building blocks (CIRCULIG). Sipponen, Assistant Professor and docent at the Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry (MMK), is one of the 408 winners selected out of nearly 3000 applicants across all disciplinaries in the competitive call.

Photo: Sören Andersson

The subject of his work is lignin that has a central role in the natural carbon cycle, and increasingly so in relation to industrial processing of woody biomass. 

Lignin is nature’s wonder material that allows trees to grow vertically and have strong and biochemically resilient structures. However, forest industry currently burns the majority of lignin in their energy and chemical recovery processes. “I want show that lignin can be used as a building block for materials that can be recycled, and this way extend the lifecycle of forest products”, says Mika Sipponen. 

If successful, this project opens wholly new frontiers for sustainable lignin-based materials that combine function and design for recycling. “I am confident to build this new team to develop these materials that have attractive properties for example as catalysts and reversible adhesives”, Sipponen describes. There will be several far-reaching implications beyond materials chemistry, as the planned work resonates to interdisciplinary research across chemistry, engineering, and life sciences. 

Sipponen adds:
“I feel privileged to have been awarded the ERC Starting Grant. This grant is a reward for the work carried by my past and present group members who share my passion in our research on sustainable materials chemistry. I am indebted for my colleagues as well as the ERC panel members and anonymous grant reviewers who ensured long-term support for our research.”

Congratulations Mika!

Read more on Mika Sipponen's research

PS. Did you know that Mika also teaches on our Masters Program in Sustainable Chemistry? Check out the programme page, application for fall 2023 open now!