The aim of this project is to demonstrate the feasibility of a new environmentally-friendly concept, in which paper-grade pulp is converted into a novel textile fibre (staple fibre). The pulp in question is made from sustainable northern wood by Metsä Group and the concept is based on integrating the textile fibre production to the entity making the pulp (i.e. to a bioproduct mill).
At the heart of this project is a greenfield, semi-industrial production plant (a demo plant) located in Äänekoski, Finland. The demo plant is integrated to Metsä Fibre’s bioproduct mill in Äänekoski. The plant was started up during 2020 and the actual demonstration phase, including the testing and further development of the new technology, began in late 2020. This phase is estimated to last about two years. Based on the outcome of the demonstration project, Metsä Group will assess investing in a commercial factory. The demo plant is owned by a joint venture between Metsä Spring and Japanese ITOCHU Corporation. The joint venture was established in late 2018.
The novel technology is based on a unique knowledge platform, which has been built by Aalto University (Finland), TITK (Germany), University of Helsinki (Finland) and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. The technical concept applied in the demo plant is the result of further input by Metsä Group, as well as by European process engineers, chemical companies and equipment suppliers. Business Finland is co-financing the on-going project and has also supported earlier stages of development. A part of the development work (i.e. piloting) was performed in a project that is co-financed by the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking.