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  • Launiainen, Samuli (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Interaction between forests and the atmosphere occurs by radiative and turbulent transport. The fluxes of energy and mass between surface and the atmosphere directly influence the properties of the lower atmosphere and in longer time scales the global climate. Boreal forest ecosystems are central in the global climate system, and its responses to human activities, because they are significant sources and sinks of greenhouse gases and of aerosol particles. The aim of the present work was to improve our understanding on the existing interplay between biologically active canopy, microenvironment and turbulent flow and quantify. In specific, the aim was to quantify the contribution of different canopy layers to whole forest fluxes. For this purpose, long-term micrometeorological and ecological measurements made in a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) forest at SMEAR II research station in Southern Finland were used. The properties of turbulent flow are strongly modified by the interaction between the canopy elements: momentum is efficiently absorbed in the upper layers of the canopy, mean wind speed and turbulence intensities decrease rapidly towards the forest floor and power spectra is modulated by spectral short-cut . In the relative open forest, diabatic stability above the canopy explained much of the changes in velocity statistics within the canopy except in strongly stable stratification. Large eddies, ranging from tens to hundred meters in size, were responsible for the major fraction of turbulent transport between a forest and the atmosphere. Because of this, the eddy-covariance (EC) method proved to be successful for measuring energy and mass exchange inside a forest canopy with exception of strongly stable conditions. Vertical variations of within canopy microclimate, light attenuation in particular, affect strongly the assimilation and transpiration rates. According to model simulations, assimilation rate decreases with height more rapidly than stomatal conductance (gs) and transpiration and, consequently, the vertical source-sink distributions for carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O) diverge. Upscaling from a shoot scale to canopy scale was found to be sensitive to chosen stomatal control description. The upscaled canopy level CO2 fluxes can vary as much as 15 % and H2O fluxes 30 % even if the gs models are calibrated against same leaf-level dataset. A pine forest has distinct overstory and understory layers, which both contribute significantly to canopy scale fluxes. The forest floor vegetation and soil accounted between 18 and 25 % of evapotranspiration and between 10 and 20 % of sensible heat exchange. Forest floor was also an important deposition surface for aerosol particles; between 10 and 35 % of dry deposition of particles within size range 10 30 nm occurred there. Because of the northern latitudes, seasonal cycle of climatic factors strongly influence the surface fluxes. Besides the seasonal constraints, partitioning of available energy to sensible and latent heat depends, through stomatal control, on the physiological state of the vegetation. In spring, available energy is consumed mainly as sensible heat and latent heat flux peaked about two months later, in July August. On the other hand, annual evapotranspiration remains rather stable over range of environmental conditions and thus any increase of accumulated radiation affects primarily the sensible heat exchange. Finally, autumn temperature had strong effect on ecosystem respiration but its influence on photosynthetic CO2 uptake was restricted by low radiation levels. Therefore, the projected autumn warming in the coming decades will presumably reduce the positive effects of earlier spring recovery in terms of carbon uptake potential of boreal forests.
  • D'Ulivo, Lucia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    This doctoral thesis describes the development of a miniaturized capillary electrochromatography (CEC) technique suitable for the study of interactions between various nanodomains of biological importance. The particular focus of the study was low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles and their interaction with components of the extracellular matrix (ECM). LDL transports cholesterol to the tissues through the blood circulation, but when the LDL level becomes too high the particles begin to permeate and accumulate in the arteries. Through binding sites on apolipoprotein B-100 (apoB-100), LDL interacts with components of the ECM, such as proteoglycans (PGs) and collagen, in what is considered the key mechanism in the retention of lipoproteins and onset of atherosclerosis. Hydrolytic enzymes and oxidizing agents in the ECM may later successively degrade the LDL surface. Metabolic diseases such as diabetes may provoke damage of the ECM structure through the non-enzymatic reaction of glucose with collagen. In this work, fused silica capillaries of 50 micrometer i.d. were successfully coated with LDL and collagen, and steroids and apoB-100 peptide fragments were introduced as model compounds for interaction studies. The LDL coating was modified with copper sulphate or hydrolytic enzymes, and the interactions of steroids with the native and oxidized lipoproteins were studied. Lipids were also removed from the LDL particle coating leaving behind an apoB-100 surface for further studies. The development of collagen and collagen decorin coatings was helpful in the elucidation of the interactions of apoB-100 peptide fragments with the primary ECM component, collagen. Furthermore, the collagen I coating provided a good platform for glycation studies and for clarification of LDL interactions with native and modified collagen. All methods developed are inexpensive, requiring just small amounts of biomaterial. Moreover, the experimental conditions in CEC are easily modified, and the analyses can be carried out in a reasonable time frame. Other techniques were employed to support and complement the CEC studies. Scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy provided crucial visual information about the native and modified coatings. Asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation enabled size measurements of the modified lipoproteins. Finally, the CEC results were exploited to develop new sensor chips for a continuous flow quartz crystal microbalance technique, which provided complementary information about LDL ECM interactions. This thesis demonstrates the potential of CEC as a valuable and flexible technique for surface interaction studies. Further, CEC can serve as a novel microreactor for the in situ modification of LDL and collagen coatings. The coatings developed in this study provide useful platforms for a diversity of future investigations on biological nanodomains.
  • Sibaouih, Ahlam (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Catalytic transformation of carbon dioxide into useful organic compounds has attracted much attention due to its economic and environmental benefits. In addition, other reasons are also taken into account, such as the possible utilization of CO2 as a renewable source chemical and the growing concern of the greenhouse effect. CO2 is an abundant, cheap, and safe C1 building block in organic synthesis. However, due to the inert nature of CO2, efficient catalytic processes of its chemical fixation remain a significant challenge. In this work, we have studied a possible pathway for practical utilization of CO2. The reaction of CO2 with epoxides giving cyclic carbonates, has been investigated. New catalyst systems based on cobalt capable of catalyzing the chemical transformation of carbon dioxide are described in detail. Oxygen is a cheap, readily available and environmentally friendly natural oxidant. The catalytic activation of molecular oxygen has great potential in a variety of applications. Catalysis and reactions, which are based on molecular oxygen, can also be considered to be ecologically benign processes. Moreover, catalytic reactions in water are highly desirable in terms of green chemistry. In this context, our purpose was to develop an environmentally friendly catalytic systems, suitable for oxidation of alcohols with molecular oxygen in water solution. In this part of the work, efficient catalysts, based on copper complexes have been synthesized and studied in the presence of TEMPO for the oxidation of benzyl and aliphatic alcohols with molecular oxygen in aqueous and nonaqueous medium.
  • Hakola, Maija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    There is nowadays a strong concern about decreasing oil supplies and global warming leading to ever increasing interest in biobased fuels and chemical production. The utilization of lignocellulosic raw materials for liquid biofuels and chemicals is a challenging task due to raw materials rigid structure which is resistant towards any actions to break it. Thus the raw materials should be pretreated to reach an economically vital process. Catalytic and alkaline oxidation presented here are novel, highly selective and effective methods to separate carbohydrates from lignin in different lignocellulosic materials. Both pretreatment methods are carried out at 120 140 ˚C for 4 20 hours under 10 bar oxygen pressure and in alkaline water solution. In catalytic oxidation also copper(II) phenanthroline catalyst is used. The obtained carbohydrate rich fraction is remarkably easy to hydrolyze with enzymes to corresponding sugars. The carbohydrate rich material from catalytic oxidation is nearly quantitatively converted into corresponding monohydrates in 24 hours by enzymatic hydrolysis. The enzyme loading can also be significantly decreased compared to standard methods, which helps to decrease the total costs of the process. Catalytic and alkaline oxidation pretreatment methods can be applied also to chromated copper arsenite treated waste wood, which is considered as hazardous waste. When combined with very mild sulfuric acid extraction and enzymatic hydrolysis 90 % sugar yield is obtained from the carbohydrate material. The sugars can be further utilized in chemical industry, which makes this method an interesting way to recycle hazardous waste. In a process turning lignocellulosic materials into sugars hydrolysis plays the key role. The hydrolysis is usually carried out enzymatically or with acids. They both have their disadvantages, such as long reaction times, poor yields or corrosive effect. As an alternative to traditional acid hydrolysis a microwave assisted mild acid hydrolysis is presented here. It can be applied to xylan, which is converted to xylose quantitatively in just one minute with 2 wt-% hydrochloric acid. When applied to milled birch wood 70 % yield of xylose is obtained. Subjecting alkaline oxidation pretreated birch to a three-step reaction, all the xylan and 66 % of the cellulose is hydrolyzed to corresponding sugars.
  • Hyvärinen, Otto (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    In meteorology, observations and forecasts of a wide range of phenomena for example, snow, clouds, hail, fog, and tornados can be categorical, that is, they can only have discrete values (e.g., "snow" and "no snow"). Concentrating on satellite-based snow and cloud analyses, this thesis explores methods that have been developed for evaluation of categorical products and analyses. Different algorithms for satellite products generate different results; sometimes the differences are subtle, sometimes all too visible. In addition to differences between algorithms, the satellite products are influenced by physical processes and conditions, such as diurnal and seasonal variation in solar radiation, topography, and land use. The analysis of satellite-based snow cover analyses from NOAA, NASA, and EUMETSAT, and snow analyses for numerical weather prediction models from FMI and ECMWF was complicated by the fact that we did not have the true knowledge of snow extent, and we were forced simply to measure the agreement between different products. The Sammon mapping, a multidimensional scaling method, was then used to visualize the differences between different products. The trustworthiness of the results for cloud analyses [EUMETSAT Meteorological Products Extraction Facility cloud mask (MPEF), together with the Nowcasting Satellite Application Facility (SAFNWC) cloud masks provided by Météo-France (SAFNWC/MSG) and the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SAFNWC/PPS)] compared with ceilometers of the Helsinki Testbed was estimated by constructing confidence intervals (CIs). Bootstrapping, a statistical resampling method, was used to construct CIs, especially in the presence of spatial and temporal correlation. The reference data for validation are constantly in short supply. In general, the needs of a particular project drive the requirements for evaluation, for example, for the accuracy and the timeliness of the particular data and methods. In this vein, we discuss tentatively how data provided by general public, e.g., photos shared on the Internet photo-sharing service Flickr, can be used as a new source for validation. Results show that they are of reasonable quality and their use for case studies can be warmly recommended. Last, the use of cluster analysis on meteorological in-situ measurements was explored. The Autoclass algorithm was used to construct compact representations of synoptic conditions of fog at Finnish airports.
  • Entner, Doris (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    In many fields of science, researchers are keen to learn causal connections among quantities of interest. For instance, in medical studies doctors want to infer the effect of a new drug on the recovery from a particular disease, or economists may be interested in the effect of education on income. The preferred approach to causal inference is to carry out controlled experiments. However, such experiments are not always possible due to ethical, financial or technical restrictions. An important problem is thus the development of methods to infer cause-effect relationships from passive observational data. While this is a rather old problem, in the late 1980s research on this issue gained significant momentum, and much attention has been devoted to this problem ever since. One rather recently introduced framework for causal discovery is given by linear non-Gaussian acyclic models (LiNGAM). In this thesis, we apply and extend this model in several directions, also considering extensions to non-parametric acyclic models. We address the problem of causal structure learning from time series data, and apply a recently developed method using the LiNGAM approach to two economic time series data sets. As an extension of this algorithm, in order to allow for non-linear relationships and latent variables in time series models, we adapt the well-known Fast Causal Inference (FCI) algorithm to such models. We are also concerned with non-temporal data, generalizing the LiNGAM model in several ways: We introduce an algorithm to learn the causal structure among multidimensional variables, and provide a method to find pairwise causal relationships in LiNGAM models with latent variables. Finally, we address the problem of inferring the causal effect of one given variable on another in the presence of latent variables. We first suggest an algorithm in the setting of LiNGAM models, and then introduce a procedure for models without parametric restrictions. Overall, this work provides practitioners with a set of new tools for discovering causal information from passive observational data in a variety of settings.
  • Metsälä, Markus (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    This thesis contains five experimental spectroscopic studies that probe the vibration-rotation energy level structure of acetylene and some of its isotopologues. The emphasis is on the development of laser spectroscopic methods for high-resolution molecular spectroscopy. Three of the experiments use cavity ringdown spectroscopy. One is a standard setup that employs a non-frequency stabilised continuous wave laser as a source. In the other two experiments, the same laser is actively frequency stabilised to the ringdown cavity. This development allows for increased repetition rate of the experimental signal and thus the spectroscopic sensitivity of the method is improved. These setups are applied to the recording of several vibration-rotation overtone bands of both H(12)C(12)CH and H(13)C(13)CH. An intra-cavity laser absorption spectroscopy setup that uses a commercial continuous wave ring laser and a Fourier transform interferometer is presented. The configuration of the laser is found to be sub-optimal for high-sensitivity work but the spectroscopic results are good and show the viability of this type of approach. Several ro-vibrational bands of carbon-13 substituted acetylenes are recorded and analysed. Compared with earlier work, the signal-to-noise ratio of a laser-induced dispersed infrared fluorescence experiment is enhanced by more than one order of magnitude by exploiting the geometric characteristics of the setup. The higher sensitivity of the spectrometer leads to the observation of two new symmetric vibrational states of H(12)C(12)CH. The precision of the spectroscopic parameters of some previously published symmetric states is also improved. An interesting collisional energy transfer process is observed for the excited vibrational states and this phenomenon is explained by a simple step-down model.
  • Hiltunen, Miia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Cellulose is the most abundant renewable natural polymer, with many attractive physical and chemical properties including hydrophilicity, biodegradability and biocompatibility. However, its effective use as bio-based material is limited due to its insolubility in water and organic solvents, as well as due to difficult processability. The main objective of this research was to utilize the new controlled/living free radical polymerization (CRP) methods in the modifications of various cellulosic materials, yielding new water-soluble cellulose based graft copolymers (cellulose-g-copolymers) with a uniform molecular structures. The recent developments in CRP methods have enabled the tailoring of macromolecules with sophisticated architectures including block, graft and star structures with predetermined molecular weights, terminal functionalities, and narrow molecular weight distributions. Modification by graft copolymerization using CRP methods provides one of the best ways to combine the advantages of both natural cellulose and synthetic polymers and therefore affect the properties of the cellulose derivatives. The cellulose-g-copolymers have various potential applications over a wide range of areas, such as sensor matrices, recognition devices, selective membranes, organic-inorganic complex materials, and bioactive and biocompatible materials. In this study novel water-soluble cellulose-g-copolymers were successfully synthesized via CRP methods (RAFT and ATRP/SET-LRP). In addition to unmodified cellulose (softwood dissolving pulp), cellulose ethers (carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) and ethyl hydroxyethyl cellulose (EHEC)) were also used as starting materials i.e. as backbones for the cellulose-g-copolymers. Homogeneous reaction conditions were used to confirm as uniform structure of the graft copolymers as possible. The influence of the side chain length and the grafting density on the aqueous solution and thermal properties of the graft copolymers were studied.
  • R. Labafzadeh, Sara (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Worldwide research is focused on the use of renewable and biodegradable raw materials due to the limited existing quantities of fossil supplies and the environmental degradation caused by global warming. Cellulose, derived from natural resources such as wood, annual plants and microbes, represents the most abundant renewable polymeric material on earth. Due to its low cost and functional versatility, cellulose has been a key feedstock for the production of chemicals with various properties and applications over the past century. It has found a wide range of applications in food, printing, cosmetics, pharmacy, therapeutics, paper making and in the textile industry. This partly crystalline polymer has not yet reached its full application potential due to its essential insolubility in most common solvents. Many investigations focus on the development of novel media for efficient and economically feasible functionalization of cellulose. The chemical modification of cellulose overcomes this obstacle and offers considerable opportunities for preparing cellulose-based polymeric materials. The modification could adjust the properties of the macromolecule for different purposes and meet the environmental requirements by using green reagents and recyclable solvent systems. Synthesis of new cellulose-based polymers and their thorough characterization and increasing the usefulness of cellulose by altering its properties have been of growing research interest for the past few years. The objective of this research was to investigate new paths for the preparation of cellulose-based materials with a variety of structural features to obtain advanced materials suitable for different applications. Most of the research has focused purely on the synthesis of cellulose derivatives in new and economically feasible solvent systems, but it also has general relevance for the material properties of the obtained derivatives. Also, the potential application of synthesized cellulose derivatives as barrier films for packaging was investigated. Highly substituted cellulose esters, carbamates and carbonates were prepared using various recyclable reaction solvents. Biomaterials with the potential for use in the packaging sector should provide high mechanical properties, in addition to good barrier properties for oxygen and water vapour. Some derivatives showed good barrier properties being promising for packaging application.
  • Granström, Mari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Even though cellulose is the most abundant polymer on Earth, its utilisation has some limitations regarding its efficient use in the production of bio-based materials. It is quite clear from statistics that only a relatively small fraction of cellulose is used for the production of commodity materials and chemicals. This fact was the driving force in our research into understanding, designing, synthesising and finding new alternative applications for this well-known but underused biomaterial. This thesis focuses on the developing advanced materials and products from cellulose by using novel approaches. The aim of this study was to investigate and explore the versatility of cellulose as a starting material for the synthesis of cellulose-based materials, to introduce new synthetic methods for cellulose modification, and to widen the already existing synthetic approaches. Due to the insolubility of cellulose in organic solvents and in water, ionic liquids were applied extensively as the reaction media in the modification reactions. Cellulose derivatives were designed and fine-tuned to obtain desired properties. This was done by altering the inherent hydrogen bond network by introducing different substituents. These substituents either prevented spontaneous formation of hydrogen bonding completely or created new interactions between the cellulose chains. This enabled spontaneous self-assembly leading to supramolecular structures. It was also demonstrated that the material properties of cellulose can be modified even those molecules with a low degree of substitution when highly hydrophobic films and aerogels were prepared from fatty acid derivatives of nanocellulose. Development towards advanced cellulose-based materials was demostrated by synthesising chlorophyllcellulose derivatives that showed potential in photocurrent generation systems. In addition, liquid crystalline cellulose derivatives prepared in this study, showed to function as UV-absorbers in paper.
  • Kuutti, Lauri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Despite the similarity of their structural basic units, cellulose- and starch-based materials behave differently in many industrial applications. In this thesis, the structure and properties of these polysaccharides and their selected derivatives were studied by means of five comprehensive examples. In the first investigation, highly crystalline cellulose was identified from Valonia macrophysa vesicles by atomic force microscopy. The role of water as a possible modifier on the surface of cellulose was found to be very important. The monoclinic phases were found on the cellulose surfaces with a lateral resolution of about 4 Å, indicating that water molecules cannot penetrate and thus disturb the surface structure of monoclinic cellulose. On the other hand, the absence of triclinic phases was explained by the used measuring geometry without liquid cell. The ageing of metastable oat and barley thermoplastic starch films was followed by frictional imaging. As a consequence of the ageing, the films lose some of their mechanical properties. In the oat films, glycerol used as a plasticiser diffused from the starch-glycerol-water matrix to the surface of thermoplastic starch, resulting in areas with low friction. In the case of barley starch films, the ageing first resulted in short range reorientation of polymers and finally slow crystallization of amylopectin branches. Solution precipitation techniques were applied to produce ideally spherical starch ester particles (with a diameter about half the wavelength of visible light), suitable for fillers in paper coatings in the third study. Particles assume their shape and size spontaneously when solvated starch polymer is mixed with non-solvent, due to the free mobility of the modified starch chains. Starch pigment has improved affinity to paper surface and it can be used as such or mixed with other pigments to enhance the optical or printing properties of paper. Starch-based pigmenting materials with improved optical performance were prepared in the laboratory by the complexation approach. Analytical results indicated that the complexation of carboxymethyl starch and inorganics strongly depends on the carboxymethyl group in the starch-based hybrid pigmented materials. The formed insoluble hybrids were mostly amorphous and the crystalline contribution of the inorganic component was not evident. The resulting precipitates exhibited composite structures. Finally, three starch-based and two cellulose-based polymers were selected for flocculation and filtration tests. In shearless dewatering conditions, the retention and dewatering properties of the starch-based polymers were similar to those of commercial polyacrylamide-based polymers. The flow studies in higher shear conditions showed that with the studied dosages the starch-based polymers could not reach the flocculation levels needed to maintain sufficient retention properties. The performance of the cellulose-based polymers as flocculating agents was less efficient. The reasons for the more limited performance of the polysaccharide-based flocculants were too low molecular weight and the charge density distribution. Better understanding of how to improve the hydrodynamic properties of bio-based polymers will be essential when planning new bio-based flocculants. The deeper understanding of the relationships between the desired structures and properties of polysaccharides helps to utilize them more effectively. In this way it is possible to obtain better bio-based and environmentally sustainable products in the competition with the current products based on conventional petrochemistry.
  • Vainio, Ulla (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    Wood is an important material for the construction and pulping industries. Using x-ray diffraction the microfibril angle of Sitka spruce wood was studied in the first part of this thesis. Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis [Bong.] Carr.) is native to the west coast of North America, but due to its fast growth rate, it has also been imported to Europe. So far, its nanometre scale properties have not been systematically characterised. In this thesis the microfibril angle of Sitka spruce was shown to depend significantly on the origin of the tree in the first annual rings near the pith. Wood can be further processed to separate lignin from cellulose and hemicelluloses. Solid cellulose can act as a reducer for metal ions and it is also a porous support for nanoparticles. By chemically reducing nickel or copper in the solid cellulose support it is possible to get small nanoparticles on the surfaces of the cellulose fibres. Cellulose supported metal nanoparticles can potentially be used as environmentally friendly catalysts in organic chemistry reactions. In this thesis the size of the nickel and copper containing nanoparticles were studied using anomalous small-angle x-ray scattering and wide-angle x-ray scattering. The anomalous small-angle x-ray scattering experiments showed that the crystallite size of the copper oxide nanoparticles was the same as the size of the nanoparticles, so the nanoparticles were single crystals. The nickel containing nanoparticles were amorphous, but crystallised upon heating. The size of the nanoparticles was observed to be smaller when the reduction of nickel was done in aqueous ammonium hydrate medium compared to reduction made in aqueous solution. Lignin is typically seen as the side-product of wood industries. Lignin is the second most abundant natural polymer on Earth, and it possesses potential to be a useful material for many purposes in addition to being an energy source for the pulp mills. In this thesis, the morphology of several lignins, which were produced by different separation methods from wood, was studied using small-angle and ultra small-angle x-ray scattering. It was shown that the fractal model previously proposed for the lignin structure does not apply to most of the extracted lignin types. The only lignin to which the fractal model could be applied was kraft lignin. In aqueous solutions the average shape of the low molar mass kraft lignin particles was observed to be elongated and flat. The average shape does not necessarily correspond to the shape of the individual particles because of the polydispersity of the fraction and due to selfassociation of the particles. Lignins, and especially lignosulfonate, have many uses as dispersants, binders and emulsion stabilisers. In this thesis work the selfassociation of low molar mass lignosulfonate macromolecules was observed using small-angle x-ray scattering. By taking into account the polydispersity of the studied lignosulfonate fraction, the shape of the lignosulfonate particles was determined to be flat by fitting an oblate ellipsoidal model to the scattering intensity.