Periodic Reporting for period 3 - EXILVA (Flagship demonstration of an integrated plant towards large scale supply and market assessment of MFC)
Reporting period: 2019-05-01 to 2020-04-30
The work tasks include start-up of the world’s first industrial sized microfibrillar cellulose plant, development of the market, advanced product characterization of both MFC and its function in selected applications and finally life cycle analysis (LCA).
Borregaard, Chimar, KTH, Østfold and Ayming are the project partners (Unilever was terminated after M36/RP2).
The project had a very good start; the plant is operational, and the market development work attracts many new prospects within new fields. Technology transfer between the partners have been successfully conducted and the advanced characterization, application testing, and LCA have been conducted according to plan.
The project has received feedback from more than 1300 prospects. More than 50 new products containing Exilva have been developed within various application areas. The greatest challenge is not the conversion rate, but rather the conversion time, however we notice a positive development and increased sales. Prioritizing and resource management is now focused on prospects and projects where we see highest success rate in the market and shorter time to the commercial market.
Due to Covid-19, the final event had to be cancelled. A comprehensive planning effort has been conducted in this period. The agenda was set, and the speakers were prepared.
The overall objective for the project is to start up the first industrial microfibrillated plant and develop the market for this technology. The plant is in operation, and the market development is given very high attention. At the end of reporting period 3 (RP3) there are 15 employees involved in sales and marketing and almost everyone spending full-time on Exilva. This is 9 more than at the beginning of the project. Product characterization and LCA analysis have been conducted as scheduled. The project is currently working within several different application areas including adhesives, coatings, personal care, home care, agricultural chemicals, oilfield, construction, composites, automotive, and packaging. The functionalities from Exilva MFC in these application areas are often linked to the flow (rheology) of materials, stability, strength and barrier properties. Exilva shows very good efficiency and can both increase product performance as well as improve the products sustainability profiles. The objective for the flagship project is to successfully upscale from existing pilot plant to full-scale flagship plant and to demonstrate industrial symbiosis between the biomass/forest industry and the various customer’s applications that find the microfibrillated cellulose to add value to their product systems or production streams. The greatest challenge is not the conversion rate, but rather the conversion time, however we notice a positive development and increased sales.
The flagship plant has entered its startup period, and all activities have been conducted. The production technology is successfully transferred from the pilot plant to the flagship plant within the period. All the process steps have been started up in a sequential manner and produced material that is within acceptable variances according to the specifications. The project has identified areas where changes are needed, related to heat transfer, hygiene and packaging, but no major process changes. Due to optimization of process and technical performance some minor changes have been conducted.
The product has also in the period generated a high level of publicity and interest due to its novelty and high activity level from Borregaard and the consortium partners, thanks to the Blog Posts and the Inbound Marketing: This has resulted in a high variety of potential application areas where the project as such is working towards proof of concepts for the product. It is however more challenging than expected to bridge the gap between Exilva and prospects competences in order to facilitate the decision-taking, and this has a direct impact on the project progress towards its commercial objectives. A one year extension of the project was amended and approved. Although the sales budget had to be down sized, compare to original budget, we experienced at RP3 that the sales are increased and the revised budget will be met.
The interaction between the partners in the consortium has been performing very well and the deliverables from all partners have been submitted.