Kruger Inc. and FPInnovations have announced a joint project to develop a five ton/day cellulose filament demonstration plant at Kruger's Trois-Rivières paper mill. Cellulose filaments are long, thin filaments made from wood fibre. They have high reinforcement potential for use in pulp and paper products, plastics, fabrics and coatings.
The plant will operate on a simple and efficient chemical-free process developed by FPInnovations that uses only mechanical/refining energy and wood fibres. Total investment for the demonstration plant is expected to be $43.1 million, which includes funding from Natural Resources Canada, through the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) Program, as well as a grant from the Québec Ministry of Natural Resources, a loan from Investissement Québec, a contribution from Kruger Inc. and funds from FPInnovations' pulp, paper and bioproducts industrial members
According to FPInnovations and Kruger, 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 can be used 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.
“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,” said Pierre Lapointe, president and CEO of FPInnovations.
“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.
The demonstration plant in Trois-Rivières will be combined with a concurrent national research program involving FPInnovations and industry. The fact that the demonstration plant will use only mechanical/refining energy and wood fibres, and that it can be built with robust and industrially available equipment, will facilitate scale-up to a commercial stage, says the developer. FPInnovations has five patents on the process and product.
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. 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.
FPInnovations is a research and development organization that specializes in the creation of scientific solutions in support of the Canadian forest sector.
Kruger Inc. is a major producer of publication papers, tissue, lumber and other wood products, corrugated cartons from recycled fibres, green and renewable energy and wines and spirits. The company’s Trois-Rivieres mill produces thermomechanical pulp and paper.