OptiBark – Bio-based materials and chemicals from industrial bark and willow by optimized processes

The goal of this project is to contribute to Finland’s and Sweden’s vision of becoming world leaders in the transition to a bio-based economy by 2030. The project will contribute to a sustainable, biobased, economy by creating conditions for an increased global demand for biobased materials and chemicals relating to UN sustainable development goals incl. no 13; take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Industrial barks are an abundant (annually 13 million m3 in Finland and Sweden) source of underutilised biomass. Industry-relevant fractionation methods for bark for the production of different types of intermediates are developed. These intermediates are further used as raw materials for various end-use applications.

Three types of raw materials: industrial softwood and hardwood barks and willow as an emerging raw material source are used. Efficient process technologies are developed for each raw material, aiming at identifying high-value applications for all biomass fractions.

Willow has been identified as a potential future fast-growing biomass, as it can be cultivated in lands that are not suitable for agriculture, nor forestry. In addition, several cultivars are available that widen the selection of raw material properties. Willow bark is a rich source of strong fibers on one hand, and active compounds of different types.

The research is done in close collaboration with industrial partners that represent various application fields where the fractionated intermediates may be suitable as such or after modifications. This ascertains that the application testing results are relevant for industrial use.

Expected results

To replace environmentally hazardous materials and chemicals with biobased ones. The project has quickly established a good, open collaborative atmosphere between the project participants that hopefully leads to effective production processes and new, innovative applications.


Holmen, Stora Enso, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), RISE Processum, SLU Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Akzo Nobel, Kemira, Kiilto Clean, Orkla Care, Kemibolaget, pSk earth adaption, Millidyne, Carbons Finland, Fiber-X Finland, Separation Research and Innomost Oy.

Budget & time plan

The project’s budget is just over 18 MSEK and the project runs between December 2019 and May 2022.