VTT collaborates with companies to develop environmentally friendly and robust biocomposites using novel technology

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Robust composite materials are in high demand within various industries in the automotive, construction and furniture sectors.

HiPer project, coordinated by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and funded by Business Finland, aims to reduce carbon emissions by developing new, lightweight and recyclable, thermoformable composites for various industries. The new production technology uses natural fibres and other bio-based materials.

To reduce industrial emissions, future materials need to be lighter. The use of fossil-based raw materials must be reduced, and their recycling should become more efficient. Lighter material solutions have a direct link to the cost and environmental impact of logistics. 

VTT coordinates a collaborative “High Performance Cellulose-based Composites” project (HiPer) as a part of the ExpandFibre ecosystem. The project has an excellent match with the ExpandFibre research themes of Biocomposites and Other fibre products, for instance. The project outcomes aim to replace some of the injection moulding composites, which often involve harsh chemicals such as epoxy. In this two-year project, foam laying technology originally developed for the paper industry is used to produce pulp-based biocomposites. This novel technology enables high production volumes and energy-efficient production.  

”In this highly promising project, VTT and partner companies take the production of new biocomposites towards industrial scale. The resulting solutions will be piloted in VTT’s testing environment in Jyväskylä using foam laying technology. Our aim is to progress to demo products and test the materials in actual end products. Using this new technology results in a much lighter weight in the materials, yet as robust as the currently available commercial natural fibre composites. This novel production technology is estimated to achieve savings of up to 30 per cent in production costs,” explains HiPer project manager Miika Nikinmaa from VTT.

The market for thermoformable biocomposites is growing globally at the annual rate of 7.5 per cent (Markets and Markets, 2022). A strong consortium enables a fast commercialization of the developed products, and the consortium partners cover the entire value chain from raw material suppliers to brand owners. At the same time, the project will strengthen Finland’s position as a provider of environmentally friendly products and technologies.

HiPer is a Co-Innovation project with a total budget of 2 M€ and coordinated by VTT. The project is funded by Business Finland, VTT and participating companies. The HiPer partners are as follows: Valmet, Sulzer, Metsä Fibre, Koskisen, Isku, NMC Cellfoam, CH-Polymers, Volar Plastic and Paptic.


Source: VTT Research