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First Industrial-Scale Foam Forming Research Environment For Forest Sector

February 7, 2012

VTT invests to new sustainable and added value fiber-based products for the forest sector

Foam forming technology gives exciting opportunities to develop new recyclable and light weight wood fiber products. It also gives a possibility to decrease raw material and production costs remarkably compared to recent technology. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, together with industry has started setting up a new pilot scale technology platform for foam forming applications.

With foam forming technology it is possible to improve paper properties and enable to manufacture high porosity, smooth and light weight products (e.g. hygiene products, insulation materials and filters). It may be solution for various printed intelligence, nano- or microcellulose applications.

“The foam forming technology requires significantly less water than conventional paper and board manufacturing. In foam forming large amounts of air is mixed to fiber furnish which makes possible to achieve unique product properties. Technology reduces water and energy consumption while saving raw material. Laboratory results from the Forestcluster programs have shown potential for remarkable fiber savings states Technology Manager Janne Poranen from VTT.

New business opportunities for forest sector

At the beginning of this year VTT launched a KOTVA project targeting to scaleup foam forming technology to SUORA. SUORA is a pilot-scale research environment for fiber processes, developed in close collaboration with the members of Forestcluster Ltd. SUORA offers cost efficient prototyping of ideas, fast experimenting, and development of new process solutions. The two-year KOTVA project has a budget of EUR 2 million and it supports the national research strategy of the Finnish forest cluster. The forest cluster has a target to double its turnover before year 2030. Half of the turnover is expected to come from entirely new products.

In the KOTVA, VTT and the University of Jyväskylä combine their knowledge in developing new production and measurement technologies for foam forming. Other partners of the project are UPM, Stora-Enso, M-real, Metso, Kemira, Omya, Wetend Technologies and Vision Systems, and the cities of Jyväskylä, Äänekoski and Jämsä. The project is funded (EUR 917,778) by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) via the Regional Council of Central Finland.

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