TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Que.—A paper mill in southern Quebec will soon be home to a massive cellulose filament demonstration as part of a $43.1-million investment in the facility.
Announced by research-and-development not-for-profit FPInnovations, Kruger Inc. and members of the federal government, the joint project will see the world’s first five-ton-per-day cellulose filament demonstration built at Kruger’s paper mill in Trois-Rivières, Que.
“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,” FPInnovations president and CEO Pierre Lapointe said in a statement.
“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.”
An innovative wood-fibre based biomaterial, cellulose filaments are chemical-free and are expected to have a major impact on Canada’s forest industry due to their ability to be integrated into other materials and to their high strength, light weight and flexibility.
According to Kruger, cellulose filaments can be used as a lightweight strengthening additive to produce lower cost commercial pulps, papers, packaging, tissues and towels.
The firm said the material may also be combined with used to create high value products ranging from flexible packaging and films to structural and non-structural panels in building construction.
The potential initial market for cellulose filaments as a strength reinforcing agent for traditional pulp and paper products is “conservatively estimated” at 120,000 tons per year in North America alone, according to Kruger.
A similar-sized, non-traditional market is forecast for thermoplastics, reinforced plastics, thermosets, adhesives and non-woven fabric and coatings, with a total revenue potential of $500-million per year for companies that make use of the biomaterial.
The $43.1-million project will receive $15-million in funding from the federal government, with the remaining financing coming from a grant from the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources, a loan from Investissement Quebec, a contribution from Kruger and funds from 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, Kruger’s executive vice-president of industrial products.
“By enabling the Canadian forest industry to diversify into non-traditional markets, cellulose filament production will help protect existing jobs and create opportunities for new highly qualified jobs across the country.”
The plant in Trois-Rivières will operate on a process developed by FPInnovations that uses only mechanical and refining energy and wood fibres with minimal impact.
This, along with the fact that the plant can be built with available equipment, will facilitate the transition to a commercial stage, according to Kruger.
According to the company, the revolutionary process will allow Canada to compete with the United States, China, Finland, Brazil and Sweden to develop next-generation cellulose-based bio-materials.
FPInnovations holds five patents on the process and product.