Wood-based materials tested in hospital

Screening curtains treated with wood-based coating are tested at the Central Finland Central Hospital. Photo: Juho Jäppinen
Metsäbiotalouden tulevaisuuskuvasto / Forest Bioeconomy Future Catalogue

The Central Finland Central Hospital in Jyväskylä is currently testing wood-based and antimicrobial plastic, coating and textile materials. The purpose is to find out whether they can be used to improve hygiene and replace some oil-based products used in hospitals.

The project is carried out by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the JAMK University of Applied Sciences, the Central Finland Health Care District and companies in the field. During the project compounds have been identified that may reduce harmful microbes in hospitals, according to a joint press release by the partners.

These compounds can be found in all parts of trees, and they are particularly abundant in such parts as the bark and the needles. The bark heaps at sawmills and pulp mills, as well as the felling residue in forests, contain considerable amounts of promising substances and their compounds.

Products containing wood-based chemicals, such as ointments containing rosin, or various cleaning agents, have been available for long. In a hospital environment the most interesting possibilities of using bio-based materials include textiles, packaging materials and the disposable and takeaway containers and utensils used in restaurants and cafeterias.

The Sami&Samu project, now in its testing phase, has identified several promising wood-based materials. The active substances were isolated at the JAMK University of Applied Sciences from fresh conifers and birches.

Examples of potential uses include screening curtains in patient rooms, which are required to inhibit or destroy microbes. Tests at the Central Finland Central Hospital aim at establishing the difference between the degree of microbial infestation in conventional screening curtains and curtains treated with tannin derived from wood bark, over a period of two months. The tannins used in the tests are available commercially.

Another interesting application are substances used for coating floors, counters and tables, and general cleaning agents.

The project outcomes will be available during the spring of 2021. The companies participating in the project are KiiltoClean, Millidyne, Paptic, Sakupe, Serres, UPM, Walki, Woodly and Repolar Pharmaceuticals.

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