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Scale up of the Continuous Production Method for Nano-sized Precipitated Calcium Carbonate, and market Introduction for Industrial End Use

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - UFPCC (Scale up of the Continuous Production Method for Nano-sized Precipitated Calcium Carbonate, and market Introduction for Industrial End Use)

Reporting period: 2017-11-01 to 2018-10-31

FP-Pigments is a Finnish SME, and a manufacturer of opacity pigment with factories in Finland, Germany, and the US. FP´s current success is based on innovative and patented, continuous production method, which enables the manufacturing of unique pigments for high value added applications in a very cost-efficient way.

In addition to current products, FP-Pigments has developed a novelty manufacturing method for pigment material called ultra-fine precipitated calcium carbonate (UFPCC), which have been tested in several new applications. The most interesting ones are:
1) the replacement of the plastic barrier material used in paper and board applications;
2) the replacement of the most widely used opacity pigment TiO2 in paints; and
3) additive in sealants and adhesives in order to improve strength and other material properties.

Compared to the current pigments, the manufacturing process of UFPCC enables vast savings in terms of carbon footprint, water consumption, and cost. For example in comparison with TiO2, the annual CO2 emission reduction potential is up to 90%.

FP-Pigments has manufactured UFPCC samples with both laboratory scale and pilot scale equipment for laboratory, pilot and plant scale application testing. Target of the UFPCC-project is to scale-up the production capabilities from laboratory/pilot scale to environmentally friendly, continuous industrial scale process, and to introduce the new nano-sized UFPCC -products to the market. Project includes the design and construction of the industrial scale pilot plant, application testing together with selected customers, as well as investment plan for FP´s factory in Leuna, Germany.
Industrial scale DEMO pilot plant for wet UFPCC product has been built during the project. Purpose of the DEMO pilot plant was i) to test the continuous manufacturing method, ii) to produce UFPCC for further application tests, and iii) to estimate the equipment suitability and cost for a full-scale production factory investment. Higher production capacity of DEMO pilot line has been obtained than the design capacity. Process technologies for improved mechanical water removal, UFPCC drying and surface coating have investigated and best available technologies have been found. Based on this work, an investment plan FP´s factory in Leuna, Germany, has been made.

Both wet UFPCC and dry, surface coated UFPCC products have been tested in paper, coatings, sealants, concrete, plastics and printing ink applications. Product samples have been provided to potential customers for evaluations and feedback has been promising. There are both technical and commercial benefits to use UFPCC in various application fields.
FP´s continuous manufacturing method to produce nano-sized particles is unique, and is based on FP´s patented production process. This method enables a production of UFPCC in large-scale in fast and energy efficient way. No extra chemicals are needed in the manufacturing process and the nano-sized particles are produced instantly into water phase. In addition, the mechanically removed process water can be recirculated back to the start of the carbonation process, closing the water cycle in the production.

UFPCC product has potential impact on several large market segments; i) barrier coatings for the packaging industry (paper and board), ii) TiO2 replacement in paints and coatings, and iii) functional fillers in sealants and adhesives. These market segments play an important role in Europe. The packaging industry is one of the biggest in world, therefore the need for competitive products for conventionally widely used polyethylene (PE) film are of outmost importance. The European automotive and aerospace industries are very dependent on coatings, sealants and adhesive of highest standards. UFPCC will positively affect the whole European industry as it enhances the performance, is very cost efficient, and has a significant positive impact on the environmental aspects to the final products.

The new UFPCC complies with current regulations and FP-Pigments, as a member of Calcium Carbonate Association, will be among the first to react if any actions are needed to maintain the compliance.