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Marko Hakovirta


Biltmore Hall (Robertson Wing) 3104


Dr. Marko Hakovirta holds a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Helsinki, and an MBA from Emory University. His expertise are in physics and material science as well as innovation management, economics, new product commercialization, and sustainable technologies. Dr. Hakovirta is an advocate for ecosystem and value-chain thinking.

Area(s) of Expertise

Physics, materials science, sustainable technologies, innovation management and economics, new product commercialization


Date: 06/30/20 - 12/31/24
Amount: $27,222.00
Funding Agencies: VentureWell (formerly know as National Collegiate Inventors & Innovators Alliance)

Abstract: With the inevitable coming of the Green Economy, biomass valorization, use of renewable and bio-based materials and development of high-performance, recyclable, biodegradable and biocompatible products are nowadays’ challenges and opportunities to welcome a more sustainable society. Yet, to hasten its arrival, we must answer the daunting question of how we transform these challenges to opportunities? By educating new generations of students to the multiplicity of opportunities or “multiverse” of biomass, from a scientific and engineering perspective to an entrepreneurial vision. The Department of Forest Biomaterials has decades of expertise in conversion and valorization of biomass into new fuels/energies and high-performance biomaterials that offer solutions to greenhouse gas emissions, environmental and aquatic pollution and waste accumulation.We propose to leverage our graduate curriculum by adding an entrepreneurial and business competency to its strong scientific and engineering core. Our envisioned integrated program aims at educating Master and PhD students from NC State University, and others (via an online version) by training them in the principles, practices and methodologies of biomass valorization, conversion, and usage.

Date: 10/01/19 - 12/31/22
Amount: $165,000.00
Funding Agencies: Environmental Research & Education Foundation

Abstract: The overall goal of the project is to develop systems to effectively utilize low-grade paper wastes in innovative, recognizable containerboard and pulp molded products in order to increase and stabilize the demand for low-grade paper waste products. This project will also evaluate the marketing potential of these new products. We will first evaluate the product performance of using low-grade paper wastes in containerboard and pulp molded product applications. A series of recycled products with varying concentrations of visible contaminants will be evaluated. We will then perform a sustainability evaluation on the new products. This would include environmental and economic evaluations. This will be followed by the evaluation of the desirability of having such products from the perspective of companies that utilize these containers to ship their products. This will be done through interviews/surveys of retail companies. We then will define the marketing advantages of these container products with respect to the general public, understanding the public’s level of preference for such containers and the ability of the container to develop strong positive brand identity with the public. This will be done through panel evaluations. We will then disseminate the results through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.

Date: 02/22/18 - 6/30/20
Amount: $120,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Energy (DOE)

With the advent of supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) being used for power generation it is believed that the exhaust from the sCO2 turbine (>500oC, and pressures of >103 bar) can be used to extract value-added materials from biomass and to leave the extracted biomass more amenable to mechanical pulping. The remaining torrefied wood can be cofired with coal to provide fuel with a lower net carbon footprint. This work will help explore the broad feasibility of this approach by addressing the following questions.

Date: 01/01/18 - 3/31/18
Amount: $2,500.00
Funding Agencies: NC Biotechnology Center

High fiber prices and constraints in fiber supply are topics of paramount interest for the hygiene tissue industry in North Carolina and the U.S.A. Several reasons can be referenced to expect a future of constant high fiber prices and potential disruption in supply. China, who imports more than 50% of the recycled fiber produced worldwide is the pre-eminent market driver for fiber cost, and market analysts indicate this trend to continue in the long term. Additionally, the reduction in consumption and production of writing paper (as an effect of the digital era) lead to the fact that fewer paper quantities will be available for recycling; furthermore, low fiber quality is currently an important issue, and it will continue to get worst. Based on calculations performed by our research group, the total fiber cost increase for the U.S. tissue industry in 2016 (in the facial tissue, bath tissue, hand towel, kitchen towel, and wipes markets) was more than USD 400 million, while fiber prices continue to maintain high levels in 2017. The latter factors present a compelling basis for attempts to enhance US competitiveness in these markets through a fundamental and applied understanding of fiber supply availability, conversion, and production processes. We are therefore excited to present Tissue Day at NC State 2018, which will focus on “Fiber Development, Sourcing, Trends, and Innovation.” We are proud to showcase more than 14 global experts who will discuss trends in the tissue industry, changes in consumption patterns, development, and outlook, and how that translates into fiber demand, supply, and pricing. This unique venue will feature discussions on fiber development and the use of biotechnology and nanotechnology on tissue manufacturing to reduce manufacturing cost, but also to increase and deliver additional value to consumers and manufacturers. In North Carolina, for example, there are two mills (Cascade and Vonhdrel) that produce nearly 200,000 tons per year of hygiene tissue; these production facilities can benefit from strategic research focused on reducing fiber cost and improving properties of the final product. NCSU has responded to the opportunity and challenges shown by existing and future tissue market trends and needs, by establishing the Tissue Pack Innovation Lab ( whose purpose is to serve the local and global tissue industry. The singular goal of this event is to connect researchers within NC State University and State of North Carolina with the hygiene tissue and personal care industry and thus explore opportunities for collaboration in research.

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