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UPM (www.upm.com) leads the forest-based bioindustry into a sustainable and innovation-driven future. UPM’s innovations focus on the efficient and responsible use of recyclable and renewable biomass. UPM’s new businesses Biocomposites (www.upmprofi.com) and Biochemicals (www.upmbiochemicals.com) develop new bio-based materials which open new sustainable and responsible business opportunities.
Creating value and replacing fossil-based raw materials
UPM Biochemicals’ offering is divided into four product categories: chemical building blocks, lignin products, biofibrils and biomedical products.
Bio-based chemical building blocks are used for example to substitute oil-based chemicals in plastic production. Wood-based lignin can be used to manufacture bio-based resins replacing fossil-based resins for example in plywood production.
Biofibrils are cellulose-based micro- and nanofibril products that can be used for shaping and reinforcing different materials. They can also be used in new biomedical applications.
GrowDex® an innovative matrix for 3D cell culturing
UPM’s GrowDex® (www.growdex.com ), is an award-winning innovation with great future potential in medical research and other applications. It is a proprietary hydrogel for three dimensional (3D) cell culturing. 3D cell culture is an in vitro technology for advanced cell culture applications. They mimic more closely natural tissues and organs than cells grown in two-dimensional environment (2D). 3D cell culture techniques enable e.g. development of cell based drug and chemical tests and discovery of models and treatment for serious diseases.
The wood cellulose-based nanofibril hydrogel GrowDex® is used for research of different sicknesses, such as cancer. In a recent project researchers investigated how cancer cells from solid tumors grow as a three-dimensional culture in GrowDex® and how they respond to different drugs.
It has turned out that cells which have been cultured in this type of 3D environment can show different drug responses than those that have been cultured in a traditional 2D environment. With some drugs, the cancer cells are sensitive in one or the other condition, not both. In other words, a certain drug only kills cancer cells in a 2D environment but not in the natural 3D environment. The use of more natural, 3D in vitro technologies enables more effective development of cancer and other drugs and even personalized medicine applications.
UPM’s GrowDex® has been recognized as a significant innovation with great future potential. It was awarded the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland innovation prize in 2016. The members of the award winning GrowDex® team come from UPM and the University of Helsinki. The award given to the innovation is also a recognition to UPM for boldly moving into new areas of research and development.
Innovative fossil-free biomaterials and products can end the fossil-based era and help to decarbonize the EU
Lignin, nanocellulose, cross laminated timber, biochemicals, biofuels, wood-based packaging, forest fibre textiles and countless materials and products of biological origin, particularly from forests, can replace a range of fossil and non-renewable materials and products with enhanced energy efficiency or environmental performance. To assume that these so-called biobased materials and products will trigger a paradigm shift is not an overestimate. A bioeconomy age lies ahead.
For over a decade, Centexbel, the Belgian research centre for textiles and plastics, is highly involved in the development and implementation of biopolymer fibres and textiles. Drop-in biopolymers such as Bio-PE or Bio-PET intrinsically have the same properties as their oil-based counterparts and can be implemented with limited technological developments.
Therefore, our focus lies on new biopolymer types since they offer a real challenge to develop appropriate processing conditions and additive selection and to maximise the specific properties offered by these new polymers such as PLA (PolyLacticAcid), PHA’s (PolyHydroxyAlkanoates), PHB (PolyHydroxyButerate), PBS (PolyButyleneSuccinate), TPS (ThermoPlastic Starches) or PEF (PolyEthyleneFuranoate). At present, PLA is the most economic biopolymer and available in the highest amounts. The majority of the research projects are directed to the use of this biopolymer in textile applications. This is illustrated by 3 European projects, representing our past and present research activities.
“BIOAGROTEX” was one of the first large-scale projects on biopolymers, coordinated by Centexbel. The project aimed at developing fully biobased agrotextiles, exploiting the specific properties of biopolymers such as PLA to be composted after its normal lifetime. To those agrotextiles requiring a guaranteed lifetime of several years, but preferentially have to be composted after reaching its end-of-life, this polymer can offer an attractive solution. In the project we succeeded in defining appropriate grades and processing conditions for production of fibres, monofilaments and tapes, which fulfilled the requirements of the specific applications.
Based on the positive results, several industrial partners launched specific new biobased Agrotextiles into the market; amongst others:
• DURACOVER® – Bonar Technical fabrics: Woven groundcovers from PLA tapes.
• HORTAFLEX® – DS Textiles: needlefelt groundcovers from PLA fibre
• FILBIO®PLA –Texinov: Knitted insect screens from PLA monofil
The products have been successfully implemented in the market and a market growth is expected in those countries where public procurement rules define the use of biodegradable or more ecologic, sustainable products, especially in the case of large public projects (railways, highways, public green space, … ).
Example: DURACOVER from Bonar Technical Fabrics from Bonar Technical Fabrics
Example: DURACOVERExample: HORTAFLEX® from DS Textiles
Example: FILBIO®PLA from Texinov
In a second more recent project, the development of biobased textile products is continued but instead of focussing on biodegradable properties, more durable applications are envisaged. The development looks into the possibilities of spinning yarns from PLA staple fibres, in combination with other natural fibres such as wool or cotton. The yarns will be further processed into fabrics for a variety of high-end clothing applications, including in casual menswear and ladieswear, protective clothing and workwear. Via this route 100% biobased articles will also be generated, avoiding the use of oil-based polyester fibres. It is obvious that in these applications durability and comfort aspects are of a much higher importance than biodegradability.
This H2020 “Fast-Track-To-Innovation” project, coordinated by Aimplas, joins the expertise of 3 industrial partners representing the different production steps: fibre extrusion, yarn spinning, weaving and confection and is supported by 2 research institutes. Centexbel supports the development of functionalised formulations and the fibre extrusion processes in close collaboration with DS Fibres who has also participated in the Bioagrotex project.
The project was started just recently. The first industrial products into the market are expected in 2019. Further information is provided by the project website: http://fibfab-project.eu
Spinning and weaving PLA/wool and PLA/Cotton yarns.
The objective of the third example of European projects, BIO4SELF, is to develop a further high-end and durable application of PLA materials. In this project, coordinated by Centexbel, a consortium of 16 research centres and industrial partners, representing the complete value chain, have set themselves the task to improve the PLA filament production to allow the production of novel fully biobased composites using the self-reinforcement technology.
To achieve this goal, high performance nanofibrillar PLA fibres will be developed, with a high tenacity and a higher melting temperature, that can act as reinforcement fibre in the composite. This reinforcement fibre itself is additionally reinforced with a bio-based thermotropic liquid crystalline polymer nanofibrils (bio-LCP) to reach the requested high mechanical properties.
For the matrix, lower melting PLA fibres will be developed and combined with the high melting reinforcement fibres to create hybrid yarns and preforms. These hybrid PLA preforms will be made with different fibre architectures, e.g. chips with short fibres in random orientations, and fabrics with long fibres in controlled orientations.
These intermediates will be further processed by injection moulding or compression moulding routes, to a range of high-level composite products.
Self-reinforced composite obtained by combining a low and high melting PLA grade.
A further goal is to develop self-functionalization of the composite materials, aiming to induce inherent self-cleaning (via photocatalytic fibres), self-healing (via tailored microcapsules) and self-sensing (via deformation detecting fibres) properties. Prototype parts for automotive and home appliances will be developed with the novel materials to demonstrate the broad application potential of the biobased self-reinforced materials.
BIO4SELF requires innovation all along the value chain.
This project example clearly shows that biopolymers are no longer solely used and developed for biodegradable and biobased purposes, but for the highest application levels and that they have the potential to outperform standard oil-based products in some applications.
For further information and updates on the BIO4SELF project, feel free to sign up for the project newsletter at the website: www.bio4self.eu.
The projects mentioned above, are only a few examples of the research projects performed at Centexbel in relation to the biobased economy. Other projects are dealing with alternative biopolymers such as TPS, PBS or PHA. Moreover, our projects not only address extrusion applications but are also evaluating alternative biobased formulations for coating and finishing processes.
Although the introduction of biobased polymers and chemicals in the textile industry is still taking place on a very small scale, we are convinced that this will gradually change in the near future. The ongoing research will surely result in new “eye-catcher” applications within a few years that will boost the implementation of biobased textiles and support the global change towards the biobased economy.
Luc Ruys, Centexbel, Technologypark 7, 9052 Gent, Belgium
One of the most important drivers to electrify traﬃc and transportation are the zero emission levels – at least locally – of CO2, NOx and particles. Another signiﬁcant driver is the energy eﬃciency of electric vehicle which is substantially better than in conventional combustion engine powered vehicles. According to some studies the total eﬃciency of electric vehicles from well to wheel is three times as good as the total eﬃciency of petrol driven vehicles.
The European and national emission reduction target levels for traﬃc have been set for 2020 and beyond. It is quite obvious that the targets cannot be met without reducing remarkably the use of fossil fuels, and shifting to electric power in transportation and logistics. Similar mindset was also in the background in 2009-2010 when the studies about the meaning and importance of electric cars and electric mobility for Finnish society in the years to come were carried out. The main result of these studies was the identiﬁcation of business possibilities for Finnish industry in the ﬁelds of mobile machinery electriﬁcation, vehicle software, charging technology, automotive industry components and electric mobility infrastructure.
All these signiﬁcant business potentials gave the Funding Agency for Innovation Tekes a good motivation to launch a speciﬁc programme in the ﬁeld of electric mobility in 2011.
The main target of the programme was to create an electric mobility ecosystem, that could generate new knowledge and competence in EV related technologies and services. From the very beginning all the development was focused on international business opportunities. The programme wanted to establish contacts also to international programmes and important business actors.The main approach in the EVE programme was to emphasize piloting, testing and demonstration projects.
As firect results of EVE programme roughly ten new start-ups have been founded and existing companies have increased remarkably their business volume in international markets. Two good examples of the startups are Virta Ltd. and Linkker Oy. Both companies were founded during the programme and have already created business outside Finland. Other good examples are Visedo and Plugit Finland, who both have already created large business on EV related technologies and services.
MATCH STGs Seminar & Workshop
15.2.2017, Radisson Park Inn Hotel,
Martelarenlaan 36, Leuven, Belgium
Materials are essential for most of the industrial sectors in Europe. However, they are not of value without their functions and their functions are related to the manufacturing of components and final products. Beside the combination of materials – manufacturing - function it is important to discuss also the relation to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) that will be used more and more in the manufacturing of products (industry 4.0), and materials for ICT are crucial to allow cheaper and more effective manufacturing (e.g. 3D printing) in Europe that is competitive to other countries and continents.
The Alliance for Materials (A4M), initiated by a number of ETP’s that have a strong materials agenda and now having as partner also the two important European materials representing societies (Federation of European Materials Societies, FEMS and the European Materials Research Society, E-MRS) will contribute to create the conditions for an effective integration of stakeholders, views and resources in the field of Materials R&D at the EU level.
The aim to create Sector Technical Groups (STG) is to serve as a reference point (“comprehensive expert group”) and transmission chain for Materials R&D issues in the respective sector chosen in a long term. The Horizon 2020 project MATCH is initiator of this new activity in the following fields: Energy, Transport, Construction, Health and Creative Industry, and should contribute to the definition and promotion of proper R&I topic priorities for the respective sectors.
By this they should also identify materials issues that concern the whole value chain approach of MATCH as e.g. problems with supply chains, challenges in maintaining resource & environment or societal challenges, that may hinder or even prevent possible investments into a technology and reduce the chance of marketable innovations.
The Match Observatory is a strategic vigilance system aimed at identifying and following the adoption by market of the key research and technology developments in materials required to meet the challenges of the 21st century across major industrial sectors. For this we will follow the evolution of market drivers, market value of the innovations and signals of real market acceptance of the innovations, this is basically TRL7, 8 and 9.
For the implementation of the Observatory tree main activities were defined and planned.
Planning of the MATCH Observatory
During this phase the main activities carried out were definition of KITs (Key Intelligence Topics) and identification of sources of information.
After a review of the strategic literature about the topic, i.e. EuMat Research Agenda or ETPs documents and a number of questionnaire-based phone interviews with EU national and regional actors on materials science a ranked list of topics where the two more voted topics were selected as primary KITs for the Observatory on four of the sectors. For the Health sectors the input of the experts induced us to completely change our selection into 3 new KITs.
The preliminary identification of sources has been made by different means, such as input from partners, input from experts interviews and searches on directories and general search engines. The result is a preliminary list of sources. Each of them has been categorized according to its coverage, as they can be specific for one of the five relevant sectors, cover some of them or have a general interest in the field of materials. This selection will be updated as new sources become available during the project lifetime.
Collection of information
On September 2015 and according to the distribution agreed in the surveillance plan, partners started collecting information internally in order to fine tuning their respective sources and tools. The information is constantly gathered using a semi-automatic approach that combines the use of internet monitoring agents with more precise selection criteria by human means.
Several online and face to face meetings have been carried out to coordinate approaches and formats concerning the upload of information on the web dissemination tool.
Dissemination of information
As defined in WP3 three main methods have been developed to disseminate information collected by the Observatory.
Additionally a twitter account @InfoObservatory has been created to disseminate Observatory´s posts.
The Match Observatory KITs will be updated during the project life taking into account the results obtained in other work packages with the aim to have a broad and accurate range of key intelligent topics, which can contribute to a better understanding about what is to come in the field of advance materials. MATCH observatory will receive inputs especially from WP6 (Roadmap Foresight and roadmap). The sustainability of MATCH Observatory will be studied during 2017 before the MATCH project is over.
RESYNTEX, a research projected funded by the EU’s HORIZON 2020 Programme, aims to create a new circular economy concept for the textile and chemical industries. Through an innovative recycling approach and industrial symbiosis, RESYNTEX, started in June 2015, will transform textile waste into secondary raw materials, creating circularity and reducing environmental impact. RESYNTEX has 20 project partners from across 10 different EU member states, including industrial associations, businesses, SMEs and research institutes.
On 14 September 2016, the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) and the European Apparel and Textile Confederation (EURATEX) organized the Experts Workshop on Textile Waste Situation & Textile Waste-to-Chemicals Scenarios. The event, held in Brussels, brought together European textile waste and chemical industry experts to discuss the current situation and trends of textile waste collection and valorization in Europe, and to validate textile waste-to-chemicals symbiosis scenarios developed by the RESYNTEX project.
During the workshop, experts alerted that, currently, many of materials contained in products are still rejected as waste after use, and much of the waste is landfilled or incinerated with high environmental impact. Not enough post-consumer textile waste is separately collected in Europe and a significant residual part of the non-reusable waste does not get recycled. The purpose of RESYNTEX is to change that reality, designing a complete value chain from textile waste collection to new feedstock for chemicals and textiles. The project aims to enable traceability of waste using data aggregation, to develop innovative business models for the chemical and textile industries, to demonstrate a complete reprocessing line for basic textile components, besides increasing public awareness of textile waste and social involvement. Participants highlighted that citizens should receive more information in order to be involved in a new way of thinking and behaving towards textile waste, with focus on sustainability.
An overview of the textile waste situation in Europe was provided by EURATEX and Oakdene Hollins. First, textile waste for the purposes of RESYNTEX is defined as “non-hazardous textile waste and is focused on residual waste currently sent for landfill or incineration, after all re-usable and easily recyclable fractions have been sorted out”, which is accessible to the project from different textile waste streams: production waste, post-use industrial/professional and post-consumer textile waste. According to the Eurostat waste generation data; there is approximately 1 million tonnes of textile waste from households in the 28 countries of the EU collected separately per year. However, collection rates vary extremely widely across Europe, with rates of 30-50% in Western and Northern Europe to virtually 0% in some Eastern European countries.
A first estimate provided by Oakdene Hollins, based on an extrapolation of data provided by 9 textile sorters in different EU countries, shows a total volume of 80,000 tonnes of residual waste generated by the EU28 sorters per year. Out from that volume and the composition of the residual material, which consists of 60% of textile fibres, the total volume of textiles that is accessible to RESYNTEX from that waste stream is 50,000 tonnes per year. More detailed information on the composition of such waste will be evaluated during the project between the partners and contacts to regional textile sorters.
A panorama of the French experience on textile waste and recycling was provided by Eco TLC, a non-for-profit private company directed by a board of industrials that aims to tend towards 100% reuse and recycling for used clothing, household linen and footwear (TLC in French). Every company that introduces clothing, household linen, and footwear items on the French market to sell it under their own brands, must either set its own internal collecting and recycling program or pay a contribution to Eco TLC (accredited by the French Public Authorities to manage the sector’s waste) to provide it for them. The funds collected support research and development (R&D) projects that are selected by a scientific committee to find news outlet and solutions to recycle used TLC, and are used to publicize campaigns organized by local authorities to change consumers waste sorting habits. Every year, 600,000 tonnes of TLC are placed on the French market; however, only 32.5 % of used TLC is collected for reuse or recycling. TLC reported that up to 7% of the collected post-consumer textile quantity is currently incinerated, partly in cement production, or even landfilled.
The Netherlands has a goal of increasing the collection of post-consumer textiles by 50% by 2020. Nowadays, the waste collection is about 90.000 tonnes per year. The low quality materials and non-reusable waste are the main challenges to the waste textile usage. ECAP (LIFE) and REMO were mentioned by Alcon Advies/ Texperium as good examples of projects on textile recycling initiatives. Belgium has an exceptionally high rate of separate textile waste collection due to a dense network of containers and other collection options across the country. The new report from COBEREC shows that, in 2015, 120,000 tonnes of old clothes were recycled in Belgium, 500 million pieces. Lower quality textiles are reused as rags (20%), or their fibers are recycled (17%). And about 8% of textile post-consumer waste is not reusable. An overview of Czech Republic textile waste scenario was provided by INOTEX Ltd: Only 3,000 tonnes of textile waste is separately collected per year and only 3 % of all textile waste seems to be recycled at present.
Cefic described existing polymer recycling business practices in other segments and summarized existing initiatives, pilots, commercial activities and other major research projects in the field of textile polymer recycling. For the RESYNTEX relevant types of fibers in the textile waste, Cefic discussed the relevant market environment. Potential business models suitable for such textile/chemical symbiosis were discussed by the workshop participants, e.g. scenarios describing a regional delocalized sorting and pretreatment of the textile waste and transportation to central chemical conversion plants to achieve economy-of-scale.
The RESYNTEX expert workshop provided an excellent platform to exchange valuable information in between the participants, challenge and validate Textile Waste-to-Chemicals Scenarios as Circular Economy concept. The discussions and conclusions highlighted the enormous value such future symbiosis could create for both sustainability and the economic benefits of the sectors involved and the society as a whole.