The ultrastructure of the wood fibre plays a central role in the physical, chemical and mechanical properties of wood and wood fibres, and thereby also influences the properties of products manufactured from wood. The ultrastructure determines fibre strength when producing pulp, the processability when producing paper and in the end, paper quality. Further, industrial production processes influence the ultrastructure and the properties of wood fibres. A number of energy requiring processes is used in the industrial chain from tree to paper. Their efficiency is ultimately related to the ultra structure of wood.
Despite the importance of wood fibres, the knowledge of fibre ultrastructure is far from sufficient and must be improved. Obtaining such knowledge is part of a strategy to keep Swedish industry abreast of competition. To be able to develop new products, renew the production processes and optimally utilize the industrial potential of wood fibres produced in Swedish forests requires new ideas on how modifications can be made at the ultrastructural level.
Rapid development in molecular biology, microscopy and spectroscopy has brought forth techniques that make it possible to study the basic building elements of the wood fibre and how they are influenced by external factors such as chemicals, enzymes and mechanical actions. Intensive research is also in progress on the biosynthesis of plant cell walls and interaction between the different polymers in the cell wall. These developments will help WURC to reach its goals.