Together with a large industrial consortium, VTT Technical Research of Finland has launched a EUR 4.5 million project to speed up the development of fibre-based products as alternatives to oil-based materials like plastics. The project, funded partly by the European Regional Development Fund ERDF, has brought together 32 companies, ranging from small to large, global companies.The Future Fibre Products project coordinated by VTT will transform laboratory-scale results into pilot-scale demonstrations for products and processes with a low carbon footprint. It will also explore how the current paper and board production infrastructure can be utilised in the field of new packaging solutions, nonwovens and insulation materials.Goal was to develop new sustainable and value added fibre based products for either replacing oil based current products or developing completely new fibre based solutions for different sectors. Main raw material in the experiments was wood fibre, which can used by itself or as one component in a mixture consisting of several different raw materials such as man-made cellulose fibres or synthetic fibres. Enabling technology for various new products is foam forming which allows utilization of different types of raw materials and manufacturing products from highly porous (density < 20 kg/m3) to very dense (density > 1000 kg/m3) materials. Work was divided in four work packages: WP1 - From papermaking to nonwovens and beyond, WP2 – Recyclable solutions through low density structure, WP3 – New Process Concepts and WP4 – Upscaling bottlenecks
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Ahlstrom-Munksjö Oyj, A Fredrikson Research & Consulting Oy, Andritz Küsters GmbH, Anpap Oy, Berndorf Band GmbH, BillerudKorsnäs AB, BinNova Microfiltration GmbH, Essity, Glatfelter, Humuspehtoori Oy, Irving Paper Ltd, Kemira Oyj, Kimberly-Clark Corp., Metsä Board Corporation, Moorim P&P CO. Ltd, Neenah Gessner GmbH, Novarbo Oy, Paptic Oy, Pixact Oy, ProSolve Oy, Regional Council of Central Finland, Rejlers Finland Oy, Sappi Finland Oy, Siam Cement Group, Stora Enso, Sulzer Pumps Finland Oy, Suominen Oyj, UPM-Kymmene Oyj, Valmet Oyj, Weidmann Electrical Technology AG, WestRock (United States), Wetend Technologies Oy, Albany International Corp.
Program produced large number of result and some selected highlight results are summarized in following:1) Viscose 24 mm fibres lab sheets were formed having good formation with relatively high (0.3 %) consistency.2) First time ever, thick and light products were done in pilot scale. This means a technical proof of the concept in pilot scale.3) Foam forming with stratified headbox could be used for producing layered webs with good layer purity.4) Vertical headbox in the new pilot machine has been started successfully and is ready for the piloting of wide range of fibre products.5) Surfactants can be successfully recovered using foam fractionation and membrane separation technologies. Process conditions should be optimized to obtain high process efficiency.Results were presented to the consortium in annual seminars and in monthly webinars. Many program partners were following the trials at VTT in Jyväskylä. Based on the program results, almost 20 publications were written and conference presentations held.