2024 Anselme Payen Award goes to….Lars Wågberg

The 2024 Anselme Payen award goes to Professor Lars Wågberg, Professor of Fibre Technology at the Department of Fibre and Polymer Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. Lars has dedicated his professional life to understanding the kinetics and thermodynamics of cellulose fibre’s interaction with water, as well as the fundamental surface and colloidal chemistry of water-based cellulosic systems relevant for industrial applications in the pulp and paper industry.

He has been developing model surfaces for not only cellulose, but also hemicellulose and lignin. These model surfaces have then been used in combination with techniques such as quartz crystal microbalance, reflectometry, colloidal probe atomic force microscopy, x-ray scattering and custom-made adhesion equipment to understand fundamental interactions between the wood components as well as these components and water, other polymers, polymer complexes and inorganic particles. The fundamental knowledge gained has then been used to better understand and improve existing fibre- and cellulose-based products, as well as developing novel products and functions, such as antibacterial properties, electronical conductivity, fire resistance, etc., of both fibre- and nanocellulose-based materials.

In terms of nanocellulose, Lars is also a pioneer in this field. He had worked on the carboxymethylation of pulp fibres as a route to ease their passage through a homogenizer to make microifribrillated cellulose (work inspired by the work of Turbak and co-authors). However, it was more than a decade later this technology was further refined and the fundamental work to understand the colloidal properties of CNFs really begun; a foundation that the entire nanocellulose community today can benefit from. This research and its applications to make films, aerogel-like materials and, more recently, spun filaments has been a solid core of Lars research the last 20 years and resulted in numerous, highly cited scientific publications. Overall, his research had a major impact on the field, with >17 000 citations from more than 330 peer-reviewed research articles.

Congratulations to Lars!

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