Technological watch

Investment in pilot plant for biodegradable cellulose films in Finland / Applications in food industry

Investment in pilot plant for biodegradable cellulose films in Finland / Applications in food industryThe difference is not visible to the naked eye (Photo: VTT)The Finnish national research centre VTT (Espoo; has invested EUR 1.5 mn in a new pilot plant. The goal is the further development of a bio-based packaging film for food (CelluloseFilms) that was presented last year.
Various types of pulp are the raw material. The process of the pilot plant at the Bioruukki research centre in Espoo, Finland, includes dissolving the woodchip components, casting the cellulose solution into film, and plasticising and drying the sections before winding them onto rolls. The pilot line, which runs at a speed of 30 m/min, has a web width of 400 mm.
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â??Consumers cannot visually distinguish the crystal-clear material from conventional oil-based plastic films,â? Ali Harlin, research professor at VTT, told, adding that the cellulose film can withstand moisture, but is also biodegradable. That the film has these properties is due to the fact that the cellulose takes on a specific crystalline form.
The monofilms can be adjusted to different properties, such as strength (20-80 MPa) or elongation (8%-50%). What distinguishes them from the cellulose films of established manufacturers is the use of â??sustainable chemicalsâ?, as Harlin emphasises, pointing out that, for example, no xanthates are used in Espoo.
Harlin currently expects the film to be commercially viable within five years, with possible applications including mono-material packaging and composite cardboard solutions that can be disposed of as waste paper after use.
The research institute, which is owned by the Finnish state, achieved a turnover of EUR 261 mn last year with around 2,200 employees. Last year, VTT spun off its pyrolysis technology, which it had been researching for more than four decades.11.05.2023 [252659-0]

Publication date: 11/05/2023



This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.