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World-unique hydrogel developed at the university

Published: 1 February 2023

Researchers at Luleå University of Technology have developed a natural hydrogel that allows for engineering biodegradable wound dressing to protect damaged skin, or 3D-printed artificial body tissue. The synthetic hydrogel currently available on the market is commonly used in contact lenses, wound care and sanitation products. With the ground-breaking new method, a biodegradable gel can now be produced from seaweed at a fraction of the energy and waste costs, and with increased resource-efficiency. The patent has been bought by Norwegian company Alginor ASA, which is currently building a processing plant for north Atlantic seaweed.

The method has been discovered by Linn Berglund and Kristiina Oksman, assistant university lecturer and professor at Luleå University of Technology respectively. The pair has a long history of researching various raw materials with the aim of developing new applications and more efficient use of for example wood and organic waste products from food processing. They first started exploring the properties of north Atlantic kelp during a cross-border Nordic research project.

Unique method minimizes energy and waste in hydrogel production

– Currently, producing hydrogel is a lengthy process that takes time and creates residual products. Our method uses one single raw material, thereby minimizing the amount of energy and waste, explains Kristiina Oksman. Alginor ASA wants to use the method to make full use of the harvest of Laminaria Hyperborea, or brown kelp, a species that is common in Norwegian waters.

Aiming to find more applications of kelp

– In addition to 3D printing, we see a number of future potential areas of application and we look forward to exploring them together with the researchers at Luleå University of Technology and other partners, says Alginor CFO Haakon Farstadvoll.

– We are happy that our research will create positive impact in society, while we continue to focus our efforts on developing additional uses for kelp as a raw material, concludes Linn Berglund.

Text: Beatrice Lind


Linn Berglund

Berglund, Linn - Associate Senior Lecturer

Organisation: Wood and Bionanocomposites, Materials Science, Department of Engineering Sciences and Mathematics
Phone: +46 (0)920 493381
Kristiina Oksman

Oksman, Kristiina - Professor and Head of Subject

Organisation: Wood and Bionanocomposites, Materials Science, Department of Engineering Sciences and Mathematics
Phone: +46 (0)920 493371