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Welcome to the Chair of Forest Biomaterials


The chair of Forest Biomaterials emerged at the beginning of 2013 in the course of a structural reform from the former Institute of Forest Utilization and Work Science. The chair is part of the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources and belongs to the Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Additionally Prof. Laborie is member of the Freiburg Materials Research Center FMF.
The chair focuses on the investigation of natural materials and the development of new biomaterials. For the valorization into materials of renewable forest resources and residues from forestry and wood industry, we connect fundamental to applied research. Our inherently interdisciplinary research ranges from the various scientific fields of wood science to synthesis of biomacromolecules, polymer physics and nano technology to material technology. You can find further details in research, projects and publications.


Anna Fichtner defends her doctoral dissertation

On January 17th 2018, Anna Fichtner successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled "Extraction Studies of Suberin from Bark and Synthesis of Lignin Isocyanate-Free Polyurethanes: Byproducts of the Beech Wood Industry" at the Faculty for Chemistry and Pharmacy.
Before joining the Chair of Forest Biomaterials in 2013 Dr. Fichtner was trained as a chemical technician and received her Bachelor and Master degree in Chemistry (Philipps-Universität, Marburg).
The main objective of her dissertation was the synthesis of bio-based, non-isocyanate polyurethane (NIPU) copolymers with building blocks derived from byproducts of the European beech (Fagus sylvatica) industry, so as to add further value to beech trees. In this context Anna Fichtner analyzed beech bark for potential macromonomers for polymerization focusing on aliphatic suberin and synthesized novel aromatic NIPU from organosolv beech wood lignin. Her dissertation work was in part enabled by financial support from the European Union through the project GANUBU of the Clusterinitiative Forst und Holz Baden-Württemberg.


Julius Ratumo Toeri defends his doctoral dissertation

Ratumo defense    

On November 16th 2017, Julius R. Toeri successfully defended his doctoral thesis entitled "Novel Chitosan Membranes for Removal of Heavy Metals from Wastewater" and was awarded a doctoral degree (Dr. rer. nat.).

With support mainly from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Kenya National Research Fund (NRF), Toeri successfully developed crosslinked chitosan-based films using synthesized azacrown ether. He showed that these materials are good candidates for removal of heavy metals from wastewater.  

He conducted his research at the Freiburg Materials Research Center (FMF) under the supervision of Prof. Marie-Pierre Laborie (PhD) and Prof. Dr. Harald Hillebrecht. His work has been published in three research articles.
Toeri joined the Chair of Forest Biomaterials at University of Freiburg in October 2012 with a Master of Philosophy degree in Inorganic Chemistry from Moi University (Kenya). He returns to his country of origin where he will resume his position as a lecturer in the School of Pure and Applied Sciences of Meru University of Sciences and Technology (Kenya).

Tiago von Lossau defends his doctoral dissertation

June 9 2017, Tiago von Lossau successfuly defended his doctoral thesis on new biomaterials from oat spelts polysaccharides.
Originally from Brazil, Tiago was awarded a doctoral scholarship from Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) to pursue his doctoral studies at the Chair of Forest Biomaterials - University of Freiburg in 2013. He conducted his research work at the Freiburg Materials Research Center (FMF).
Following his succesful defense, Tiago has gotten a full-time position at the Flint Group as a Researcher.


 A Fourth Prize Awarded to Dr. Abushammala by the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities: Ökologiepreis der Sigrid-und-Viktor-Dulger-Stiftung 2017 

Hatem Heidelberg Prize

(copyright © Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities)

On May, 20th 2017, Dr. Hatem Abushammala received the Ecology Award of the Sigrid and Viktor Dulger Foundation from the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. This is the fourth prize for his excellent doctoral thesis “Novel Ionic Liquid-Mediated Technologies for the Extraction of Nanocellulose Directly from Wood”. More details can be found from: www.pr.uni-freiburg.de/pm/personalia/nanotechnologien-in-der-holzforschung-1

Congratulations to Hatem for his great achievement!


Insulating Foams from European Softwood Tannins with Excellent Properties


A news released from Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe (FNR) about the project "BioFoamBark”, more details please find from the link: www.fnr.de/presse/pressemitteilungen/aktuelle-mitteilungen/aktuelle-nachricht/


The Gold Medal was Awarded to Dr. Abushammala in Recognition of his Excellent Thesis

 Hatem third prize.JPG

The International Academy of Wood Science (IAWS) awarded the Gold Medal to Dr. Hatem Abushammala in recognition of his excellent PhD thesis “Novel Ionic Liquid-Mediated Technologies for the Extraction of Nanocellulose Directly from Wood”. 

Hearty congratulations to Hatem for his prestigious international award!


Warm congratulations to Hatem from all Biomaters!A Second Prize for Dr. Hatem Abushammala: Hansjürg-Steinlin-Preis 2016


Dr. Hatem Abushammala was awarded the Hansjürg-Steinlin-Preis 2016 by the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources for his doctoral thesis “Ionic Liquid-Mediated Technologies for the Extraction of Nanocellulose Directly from Wood”. The award ceremony took place as part of the official opening of the Academic Year 2016/2017 by the Rector Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c.  Schiewer on Oct 19th 2016. This is the second prize for Dr. Abushammala for his doctoral work. He was awarded last year the prestigious Leo-Schörghuber Preis 2015 at the Münchner Holzkolloquium at the Technical University of Munich.

Warm congratulations to Hatem from all Biomaters!

NFZ meeting in Freiburg


From the 29th of February to the 1st of March 2016 researchers from Nancy (France), Zürich (Switzerland) and Freiburg (Germany) met for a graduate stuent workshop on "Nanocellulose and Wood Functional Materials". This workshop coincided with the annual visit of Prof. W. Glasser (Virginia Tech, USA) to the Biomat group in Freiburg. He gave an inspiring lecture to students and experienced scientists alike.

This informal gathering follows the tradiational meetings initiated by Prof. Gérard Nepveu and Prof. Gero Becker of the former Institute of Forest Utilization and Forest Science.


Michel Brioude defends his doctoral dissertation


On the 26th of January 2016 Michel Brioude successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled “Microstructuring of Cellulose Nanocrystal Films with Plasma Polymerization”. During his doctoral studies, Michel was supported by a fellowship granted from the “Barbara und Elisabeth Grammel Stiftung”. This work, performed in cooperation with the Institute of Materials Science from Mulhouse (IS2M), France, aimed at investigating the role of cellulose nanocrystals on the microstructuration of plasma thin films. This successful partnership resulted in 3 peer-reviewed publications and should continue to thrive in a follow-up doctoral project.
Native of Salvador, Brazil, Michel has decided to return to his roots. He pursues his career in academia and is currently a lecturer in the Salvador University, Brazil.

Dr. Hatem Abushammala receives the Leo Schörghuber Preis 2015 at the “Münchner Holzkolloquium” for his doctoral dissertation entitled “Novel Ionic Liquid-Mediated Technologies for the Extraction of Nanocellulose Directly from Wood”



Hatem Abushammala’s dissertation exemplifies the innovations made possible by bridging the traditional field of wood science with the promises of nanotechnology. Devising a facile one-pot extraction process of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) from wood, Abushammala’s doctoral research at the Chair of Forest Biomaterials has opened new avenues to add value to any lignocellulosic waste stream in the forest product industry. This innovation, validated by a patent application (EP1515769) and numerous peer-reviewed publications, was made possible by his systematic approach: an initial fundamental study of the impact of ionic liquids on wood swelling and viscoelasticity proved useful to screen the efficacy of these chemicals for wood softening and defibrillation (Abushammala et al. 2015a).  Abushammala then ambitioned to pulp wood, hydrolyze cellulose amorphous fractions and preserve wood cellulose native crystals all at once and with only one chemical.   Amazingly, he succeeded when studying in detail the potency of imidazolium acetate ionic liquid on wood (Abushammala et al. 2015b).
One shall read his publications to understand the tricks, mechanisms and advantages of the process. However here suffices to highlight the advantages of the method: one can start directly from wood instead of pure cellulose pulp; it is very easy to recover the CNCs without any purification step, otherwise a bottleneck in CNCs production; Finally, the CNCs directly produced from wood have aspect ratios (L/d) about twice those generally reported for wood CNCs. Practically, this means that this new ionic liquid-based process can convert any wood or lignocellulosic waste into high-value cellulose nanocrystals in a  facile process.  
All these findings were highlighted at the Münchner Holzkolloquium on Friday Nov. 20, 2015, where Dr. Abushammala was honored as one of the two recipients of the Leo Schörghuber Preis 2015. With a donation of 3000 euros, the Leo Schörghuber Award from the Leo Schörghuber Stiftung recognizes outstanding work in the field of wood and wood products, primarily doctoral, master and bachelor studies. The award committee chaired by the President of TU München, Prof. Herrmann, selected two dissertations this year.
Congratulations to Hatem for this outstanding recognition and thank you to our Münchner colleagues for the warm welcome.
For further reading:
•    H. Abushammala, J. F. Pontes, G. H. Gomes, A. Osorio-Madrazo, R. Thiré, F. Pereira, M.-P. Laborie. Swelling, Viscoelastic, and Anatomic Studies of Ionic Liquid-Swollen Norway Spruce as a Screening Tool towards Ionosolv Pulping. Holzforschung. 2015a; 69(9): 4607-4619.
•    H. Abushammala, H. Winter, I. Krossing, M.-P. Laborie. On the Prevalence of Side Reactions during Ionosolv Pulping of Norway Spruce with 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium Acesulfamate. Cellulose. 2014; 21(6): 4607-4619.
•    H. Abushammala, I. Krossing, M.-P. Laborie. Ionic Liquid-Mediated Technology for Cellulose Nanocrystals Production directly from Wood. Carbohydrate Polymers. 2015b; 134: 609-616.
•    H. Abushammala, M-P. Laborie. Ionic Liquid-Mediated Production of Cellulose Nanocrystals Directly from Wood. 2015. European Patent, EP1515769.


Hansjürg-Steinlin-Preis for Danny García

151026_Bild_Danny.jpg   For his doctoral thesis “Pinus pinaster (Ait.) bark tannin and its hydroxypropyl derivatives as building-blocks for bio-material design” ,  Dr. Danny Eugenio García Marrero was awarded the “Hansjürg-Steinlin-Preis” by the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources . The award ceremony took place as part of the official opening of the Academic Year 2015/2016 by Rector Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c.  Schiewer on Oct. 21st 2015.  Dr. Garcia is one of 3 recipients from the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources to be recognized with this award.   It is also a special honor for the Chair of Forest Biomaterials to count among its doctoral graduates an awardee of the “Hansjürg-Steinlin-Preis”, since Prof. Dr. Hansjürg Steinlin was the founding director of the former Institute of Forest Utilization and Work Science (FobAwi), from which the Chair of Forest Biomaterials emerged in 2013. Dr. García is currently a scientist at the Technological Development Unit of the University of Concepción, Chile, where he continues his work on bio-based chemicals and materials. Warm congratulations to Danny from all Biomaters!

Members of the Chair of Forest Biomaterials present their research at the final workshop "Functional wood and cellulose-based materials" of the COST Action FP1105


The time you spend at research meetings is always wonderful but it gets lovelier when you share it with your lab colleagues. Students and post-docs from the Chair of Forest Biomaterials attended the final workshop of the COST Action FP1105 "Understanding wood cell wall structure, biopolymer interaction and composition: implications for current products and new material innovation" held at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) in Dubendorf on Aug 31st to Sep 1st.

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Ricarda Böhm defends her doctoral dissertation

On the 12th of March 2015 Ricarda Böhm successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled “Tannin and hydroxypropylated tannin as bio-based building blocks for rigid foams, wood adhesives and polyurethane thermosetting plastics”.  Supported by the Wood Wisdom-Era-Net Project BioFoamBark, Ricarda explored several material options for turning renewable bark extracts into bio-based polymers capable of resplacing commercial petroleum-based foams and adhesives.    Ricarda is the first doctoral student from the Chair of Forest Biomaterials to receive her degree from the Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy thanks to ongoing collaborations in this faculty with Prof. Friedrich.

The research contribution of Ricarda was recognized by industry in 2013 when together with 2 other PhD students active in BioFoamBark, she received the “ Innovationspreis Schaumstoffe 2013“ from the german “ Fachverband Schaumkunststoffe und Polyurethane e.V.”   With this connection to industry early on in her work and interest for applied research, Dr. Böhm welcomed a research position at Flint Group Germany GmbH.

Hatem Abushammala defends his doctoral dissertation with magna cum laude

On the 25th of February 2015, Hatem Abushammala successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled “Ionic Liquid-Mediated Production of Nanocellulose Directly from Wood”. After three years of hard work in the lab he could develop and optimize the first reported process to produce cellulose nanocrystals directly from wood. His work has been translated into several research articles and an invention disclosure.  Hatem’s work was mainly funded by DAAD, GIZ, and CAPES through the NoPa Project.  
Hatem has decided not to leave his academic family. He will continue exploring other horizons in the field of bio-based materials with us as a Post-doctoral Research Associate and lecturer in the Chair of Forest Biomaterials.


Jia Mao defends her dissertation with magna cum laude

Jia Mao defended her doctoral thesis entitled “Production of Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNCs) with the Ionic Liquid 1-Butyl-3-Methylimidazolium Hydrogen Sulfate [Bmim]HSO4 ” on November 25, 2014 and was awarded her doctoral degree (Dr. rer. Nat.) magna cum laude.  In her dissertation, Jia developed a novel, highly-efficient method to produce cellulose nanocrystals under environmentally-friendly conditions. Jia first came to the University of Freiburg in March 2011, after receiving her Bachelor and Master degrees in Wood Science and Engineering from Beijing Forestry University.  During her doctoral studies at the University of Freiburg, she was the recipient of a fellowship from the “Barbara und Elisabeth Grammel Stiftung”.  She is continuing her academic career as a post-doctoral research associate at the Chair of Forest Biomaterials, University of Freiburg.


Danny E. Garcia-Marrero defends his dissertation with summa cum laude

On   November 19th 2014,   Danny E. García-Marrero defended his dissertation on tannin-based biomaterials with brio and summa cum laude.   Danny conducted his research at the Freiburg Materials Research Center (FMF) within the framework of the ERA-NET project BIOFOAMBARK, funded by the BMELV through FNR.  In his dissertation, Danny devised a new and facile derivatization strategy, the hydroxypropylation of tannins, allowing to tailor-design these bio-based building blocks for the synthesis of various phenolic and polyurethane bio-based polymers.   Not only did Danny achieve the highest possible grade for his dissertation, but he also completed it in a record time of 2 and half years.  Danny worked under the supervision of Prof. Marie Pierre Laborie, PhD. (Uni-Freiburg), Prof. Dr. Antonio Pizzi (France) and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang G. Glasser (USA).   With such success, Danny, a native of Cuba, returns closer to his origin and culture by starting his new position as a permanent researcher at the Technological Development Unit (UDT), University of Concepción, Chile.


New Post-Doc: Zarah Walsh

Walsh Zarah     
Understanding the interactions between cellulose or lignin and carbon nanotubes is important for the development of renewably sourced, highly durable composite materials. Zarah Walsh, a new postdoctoral researcher in the group of Prof. Laborie, will be studying the adhesive forces between cellulose/lignin and carbon nanotubes through atomic force microscopy as a tool in understanding and improving composite formation. Dr. Walsh comes to the Laborie group from from a PhD at Dublin City University and a postdoctoral stay at the University of Cambridge, bringing with her a strong knowledge of microscopy based analytical techniques and AFM-based adhesion studies. Her research at the University of Freiburg is supported by the CARBOPREC project on wood polymer-CNT composites.


Poster Award at ISBBB in Guelph (Canada)




From the 19.05.-24.05.2014 the ISBBB (International Symposium on Bioplastics, Biocomposites and Biorefining) took place at the university of Guelph. This is a very renowned conference in the field of sustainability and Bioplastics.
Three PhD candidates of our research group had the opportunity to present their work as posters or talks and get to know experts from the field.
Ricarda Böhm won the third price in the poster presentations.

During the conference a lot of networking and discussions with people from the Bioplastics field was possible and the group from Freiburg made a lot of new friendships.


 Carboprec: Günstigeres Hochleistungsmaterial aus natürlichen Stoffen



Die Professur für Forstliche Biomaterialien ist an der Entwicklung eines neuen Verfahrens zur Herstellung von Carbonfasern beteiligt

Das Projekt „Renewable source nanostructured precursors for carbon fibers“, kurz Carboprec, erhält von der Europäischen Kommission in den kommenden vier Jahren eine Förderung von etwa sechs Millionen Euro. 14 Partner aus Forschung und Industrie aus sieben europäischen Ländern und Russland sind daran beteiligt, darunter die Universität Freiburg sowie der französische Automobilhersteller Renault. Koordinator ist das französische Chemieunternehmen Arkema. Marie-Pierre Laborie, Professorin für Forstliche Biomaterialien am Institut für Geo- und Umweltnaturwissenschaften, leitet das Projekt am Freiburger Materialforschungszentrum (FMF) der Albert-Ludwigs-Universität.

This information is only available in german.

 Ausgezeichneter Schaum

Ausgezeichneter Schaum  

Für ihre Forschung an Hartschäumen aus Rindenextrakt, die als Dämmmaterial für Häuser dienen, hat das Nachwuchsteam Ricarda BöhmDanny Garcia-Marrero (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg) und Clément Lacoste (Université de Lorraine/Frankreich) beim „Innovationspreis Schaumstoffe 2013“ den zweiten Platz belegt. Weiterlesen.

This information is only available in german.


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