Metsä Group’s innovation company Metsä Spring and Valmet have initiated a joint project for the development of a novel wood-based 3D product to replace similar products made out of fossil resources, especially in consumer products like packaging.
The joint project focuses on fine-tuning properties of the new environmentally-friendly material and on developing a highly automated and digitalized manufacturing technology. Utilising Metsä Group’s current industrial side streams as the raw material of the new product will also be assessed. The aim of the project is to jointly analyse the technical and economic performance of the new concept and evaluate the prerequisites to build, in a potential next phase, a pilot plant integrated to existing pulp or board production in Finland.
“Our new product would be of high quality, safe, easily recycled and based on sustainably grown, renewable Northern wood. Should material recycling, for some reason, not be an option, the product is also biodegradable. Moreover, its manufacturing would be fully fossil free. We aim at large scale market segments, and our ambition level is high. Hence, we are optimistic about the potential of creating a new important value-add product for the Finnish forest industry,” says Metsä Spring’s project lead Jarkko Tuominen.
“Valmet is strongly committed to the development of solutions that support sustainability. As a technology leader, we are in a first-class position to utilise our existing, unique technology and product development capabilities for the benefit of projects like this. A collaborative project with our customer is an excellent way of advancing development in concrete steps,” says Petri Rasinmäki, head of the Board and Paper Machines Technology Unit at Valmet.
The start-up of a potential pilot plant could take place in 2021. If the pilot plant phase proofs the concept viable, then the next step would be to construct a first commercial manufacturing line in the years ahead.
Metsä Spring was established in the spring of 2018. The development project with Valmet is the third investment made by Metsä Spring. The 40 MEUR textile fibre demo plant in Äänekoski, Finland, owned jointly by Metsä Spring and Japanese ITOCHU, is currently in the beginning of the start-up phase. Last July, Metsä Spring made an equity investment in Woodio Oy – a company which develops and manufactures fully waterproof wood composite material.
Source: Metsä Group, press release, 2020-02-13.