Inorganic side streams: From basic research and technology development to sustainable value chains (InStreams)

Sustainable use of earth´s diminishing resources demands more efficient utilisation of waste and side products. With a focus on inorganic side streams, InStreams aims to integrate knowledge to anticipate challenges in sustainable value chains, linking value chain analysis to engineering and basic research and feeding information to policy makers and actors in the public and private sectors. The vision is to actively contribute to the move towards clean production ecosystems of the future by identifying and solving key problems enabled by the high-quality research.

InStreams has strong commitment to a focus in sustainable materials and systems, and a wide academic base for interdisciplinary inorganic materials research and engineering, readily combined with sustainable value chains and business. It is complementarity to our other profiling area Genome of Steel. InStreams has a top-level infrastructure for inorganic material characterization and testing of engineered materials. The PIs at inStreams have been granted for many competitive fundings including an ERC Consolidator Grant and leading roles in H2020 projects; and they have strong links to the private sector ecosystems, including global players in Northern Finland.

Director: Prof. Harri Haapasalo, Head of Industrial Engineering and Management, University of Oulu
Vice director: Prof. Mirja Illikainen, Head of Fibre and Particle Engineering, University of Oulu


Genome of steel - Physics for strong, tough and sustainable steel

Genome of Steel is a profiling area in the university’s strategic research focus area Sustainable materials and systems. It is funded by a specific instrument of the Academy of Finland aimed at strengthening the research profiles of Finnish universities.

Steel research at the University of Oulu is a multidisciplinary area of science, involving physical and process metallurgy, applied physics and mathematics, biomimetics and mineralogy, as well as chemical, mechanical, production, and control engineering. Specialities include the fundamentals of ultrahigh-strength tough steel and high-strength stainless steels.

The goal of the profiling area is to integrate experimental and theoretical physics knowhow and infrastructure with the steel regime, increasing our fundamental understanding of the relationships between steel processing, microstructure and properties. Our vision is to become one of the globally leading centres in multiscale steel research. Fulfilment of this vision will enable steel producers and users, both locally and globally, to innovate towards the widespread use of high-strength steels for environmentally friendly lightweight applications.

The research is carried out in the university´s strategic research focus institute Kvantum, the Centre of Advanced Steels Research (CASR) at the Faculty of Technology and Nano and Molecular Systems Research Unit at the Faculty of Science. CASR forms the biggest steel research consortium in the Nordic countries and is aiming to expand into an intersectoral Finnish research community.

Director: Prof. Jukka Kömi, Head of Materials and Production Engineering Unit, University of Oulu
Vice director: Prof. Marko Huttula, Head of Nano and Molecular Systems Unit, University of Oulu



The university also profiles in high-level multidisciplinary doctoral training with links to entrepreneurial activities. Here Imaging for the Future (I4Future): Novel Imaging and Characterisation Methods in Bio, Medical and Environmental Research and Technology Innovations is a EU Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie action co-funded doctoral programme at the University of Oulu. The highly international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral programme is coordinated at the Faculty of Science. The programme hosts 20 Early Stage Researchers from twelve nationalities around the globe, carrying out research in six faculties of the university. The I4Future programme will train ESRs with a deep knowledge and multidisciplinary view of the exploitation of modern imaging and characterisation methods, and transferable skills to evaluate and implement innovations made in research.

Head of the I4Future: Prof. Marko Huttula, Nano and Molecular Systems Research Unit, University of Oulu