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Flagship demonstration of an integrated plant towards large scale supply and market assessment of MFC

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EXILVA (Flagship demonstration of an integrated plant towards large scale supply and market assessment of MFC)

Reporting period: 2017-11-01 to 2019-04-30

The objective for the Exilva project is to commercialise the Exilva product, microfibrillated cellulose (MFC).
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, Unilever, Chimar, KTH, ØSTFOLD and Ayming are the project partners.
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.
Borregaard has increased its resources spent on the market development of the Exilva product within the project period in order to continue the momentum in this process. The focus is especially linked to turning the prospects from a final testing phase to a qualified commercial customer.

1.1. Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project
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, signalled by the hiring of six more full-time equivalents to 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.
1.2. Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far
The Exilva project started May 1st, 2016 in 5 European countries (Norway, England, France, Greece and Sweden).
The flagship plant has entered its startup period, and all activities are on schedule. 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.
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. 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 objectives. A one year extension of the project has been amendment and approved (12/12/2018).
This will support and increase the achievement of the project objective.
The interaction between the partners in the consortium is performing well and the deliverables are submitted according to plan.
1.3. Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)
Exilva has shown significant functionality in a wider range of applications. In some of the cases, the dosage efficiency is better than expected. These findings have a positive impact for the development of green sustainable products that give innovation opportunities for the industries and subsequent safeguarding and expanding these industries. The flagship plant in Sarpsborg, Norway and its related 41 FTEs is creating significant socioeconomic impact.
Exilva plant at Borregaard