Innovations from the forests Innovations from the forests

Innovations from the forest


The forest industry is the strong engine of the Finnish economy. Even in the future, the industry will continue to be based mainly on its current products: wood prodcuts, pulp, paperboard and paper.

However, new innovative wood-based bioproducts are emerging alongside these traditional products, in response to global challenges and the need for improved and, above all, products with lower impact on the environment.

Wood is suitable for nearly anything that can be made from fossil raw materials – even more suitable.

Innovaatioita metsästä

Wood has many uses – it can even be used to make mugs.

Innovations from the forest

Wood is a source of ecological wealth

In a few decades, these innovative next-generation bioproducts may become a cornerstone of the Finnish export industry.

Promising innovative bioproducts are based on lignin, wood’s own adhesive, for example. Lignin has traditionally been used for energy, but new applications have also started to arise that make more effective use of its complex structure.

“Lignin could be used in wood-based glue, for example, as its structure resembles that of the raw material for current oil-based glues,” says Niklas von Weymarn, CEO of Metsä Spring, Metsä Group’s new innovation company.

      
Biotalous on ratkaisu

Shirts and dresses from the forests

Other promising products of the wood-based bioeconomy include pulp-based textile fibres. They have the potential to offer an alternative to cotton with a lower impact on the environment, as the production of cotton can no longer be increased because of environmental issues.

      

"Wood-based textile fibres are already being used to replace cotton as a raw material for yarn, and they offer great potential for resolving shortages of raw materials in the textile industry."

NIKLAS VON WEYMARN|METSÄ SPRING

Biotalous jalostaa uusiutuvia luonnonvaroja ekologisiksi tuotteiksi

In the future, pulp may offer an alternative to cotton fabric with a lower impact on the environment.

“Wood-based textile fibres are already being used to replace cotton as a raw material for yarn, and they offer great potential for resolving shortages of raw materials in the textile industry,” says von Weymarn.

Pulp can be used to produce strong textile fibres for clothes and technical textiles. “Pulp-based textile fibre is a very interesting product and a natural choice for the first project to be carried out by our new innovation company,” says Niklas von Weymarn.

Metsä Spring is developing a direct-dissolution method for the production of textile fibre. The method makes use of entirely new types of pulp-dissolving compounds. It has lower impact on the environment than the current production options.

“Metsä Spring has established a multinational planning team that is designing a demonstration plant for producing a new type of textile fibre from pulp”, says Niklas von Weymarn. The intended capacity of the demonstration plant is around 500 tonnes per year, in conjunction with Metsä Group’s bioproduct mill in Äänekoski. The investment decision concerning the establishment of the plant is expected to be made by the end of 2018.

Innovations from the forest

Plastic with a touch of the forest

A biocomposite developed by Aqvacomp is a prime example of current bio-based products offering an alternative to oil-based plastics with a lower impact on the environment.

Aqvacomp uses pulp to replace some of the plastic in its biocomposite.
“The combination of pulp and plastic produces a durable, ecological material with a considerably smaller carbon footprint than that of plastics reinforced with glass fibre,” says Markku Nikkilä, Managing Director of Elastopoli Oy, the company behind Aqvacomp.

The company’s biocomposite can be used to replace fossil based plastics in consumer electronics, the automotive industry and the production of musical instruments for example. “Biocomposites offer practically limitless opportunities. They are suitable for anything where plastic reinforced with glass fibre or minerals is used. We’re talking about a need for millions of tonnes of materials,” Nikkilä points out.

     

Biotalous on ratkaisu

”Biocomposites offer practically limitless opportunities. They are suitable for anything where plastic reinforced with glass fibre or minerals is used.”

MARKKU NIKKILÄ|ELASTOPOLI OY

The demand for biocomposites is global, which is exemplified by Aqvacomp’s cooperation with the electronics giant LG.  “Our biocomposite was selected as a material for LG’s loudspeakers because of its excellent sound qualities and eco-friendliness,” Markku Nikkilä explains.

Consumers are increasingly conscious and are demanding more sustainable materials with lower impact on the environment. According to Nikkilä, this is also evident in international trade negotiations.

“There is a genuine need for alternatives with a lower impact on the environment. Major automotive and electronics companies are continuously looking for alternatives to plastic as a material. Renewable wood from sustainably grown Finnish forests is a very topical material and provides a strong competitive advantage,” says Nikkilä.

Biotalous on ratkaisu