FPInnovations and Kruger recently announced a joint project to implement the world's first five ton/day cellulose filament demonstration plant at Kruger's Trois-Rivieres Paper Mill.
This important research and innovation project represents investments totaling $43.1 million, including funding from Natural Resources Canada, through the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) Program, as well as a grant from the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources, a loan from Investissement Quebec, a contribution from Kruger Inc. and funds from FPInnovations' pulp, paper and bioproducts industrial members.
A highly innovative wood-fibre based biomaterial, cellulose filaments (CF) are expected to have an immediate impact on Canada's forest industry due to their capacity to be integrated into other materials and to their high strength, light weight and flexibility. CF will be used in a wide range of applications as a lightweight strengthening additive to produce lower cost commercial pulps, papers, packaging, tissues and towels.
Looking to the future, CF may be combined with many materials to create high value products ranging from flexible packaging and films to structural and non-structural panels in building construction.
"This announcement is a shining example of how collaboration and targeted investment in research and development can positively impact traditional markets while leading to the development of innovative new products," said Pierre Lapointe, President and CEO of FPInnovations. "Cellulose filaments are set to become a key element in the transformation of the Canadian pulp and paper industry enabling the industry to gain a foot-hold in non-traditional markets while building on its existing manufacturing capacity in forest-dependent communities across Canada.
"We are very pleased to be part of this groundbreaking project which will make Canada a global leader in CF production," said Daniel Archambault, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Industrial Products Division, Kruger Inc. "By enabling the Canadian forest industry to diversify into non-traditional markets, CF production will help protect existing jobs and create opportunities for new highly qualified jobs across the country."
The demonstration plant in Trois-Rivieres, combined with a concurrent national research program involving FPInnovations and industry, provides a strategic advantage for the production and marketing of this transformative biomaterial. The plant will operate on a simple and efficient chemical-free process developed by FPInnovations that uses only mechanical/refining energy and wood fibres with minimal impact. This, in addition to the fact that the plant can be built with robust and industrially available equipment, will facilitate scale-up to a commercial stage, thus conveying a unique advantage to Canadian companies.
The potential initial market for CF as a strength reinforcing agent for traditional pulp and paper products is conservatively estimated at 120,000 tons per year in North America alone.
In addition, a similar-sized, non-traditional market is forecast for thermoplastics, reinforced plastics, thermosets, adhesives, and non-woven fabric and coatings, representing a total revenue potential of $500 million per year for companies that make use of CF.