UPM Starts Pre-commercial Production of Fibril Cellulose

Fibril cellulose can be used in many industrial applications requiring high stabilization capacity and high viscosity.

Nov. 15, 2011 - UPM said that it has started pre-commercial production of fibril cellulose and is currently developing new fibril cellulose applications with industrial partners.

UPM initiated the fibril cellulose product development process in 2008. Pre-commercial production began this autumn at Otaniemi, Espoo, Finland. UPM is now able to provide different types of fibril cellulose for extensive customer testing. UPM's objective is to create the preconditions needed for industrial-scale production of fibril cellulose.

"Fibril cellulose is part of UPM's renewal and our Biofore strategy. We are currently focusing on commercialising fibril cellulose. The first stage mainly consists of developing products used in paper and packaging materials and the concrete and paint industries. We are also looking for new partners to develop new applications," says Esa Laurinsilta, Director, UPM Fibril Cellulose.

The production process used by UPM for fibril cellulose is the result of long-term development. The fibres in the most finely grained products are fibrils measured at the nano scale. The rougher products consist of micrometre fibres. UPM has protected the results of the development work with comprehensive patents that cover the manufacture of fibril cellulose and the applications.

Fibril cellulose can be used in a wide range of applications. UPM's fibril cellulose provides new properties and design opportunities for traditional materials; it can be used to make products tougher, lighter or thinner, depending on the application.

When water is added to fibril cellulose, a strong gel structure is created. Therefore, fibril cellulose can be used in many industrial applications requiring high stabilisation capacity and high viscosity.

UPM's fibril cellulose has proved to be functional in several application tests over the past few years. "In October, we produced the first industrial-scale batch of speciality paper reinforced with fibril cellulose at the UPM Tervasaari mill," Laurinsilta says.

Laurinsilta stresses the importance of the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes) and the development partners for the new product: "Forty researchers at the Finnish Centre for Nanocellulosic Technologies have developed fibril cellulose for UPM in cooperation with the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Aalto University."