Aqvacomp Oy from Sastamala, Finland, and the electronics giant LG have signed an agreement on the supply of biocomposite for LG’s Soundbar SJ 9 loudspeakers. The biocomposite is produced by combining softwood pulp from Metsä Group with plastic at Aqvacomp’s new production facility, which will be starting up at the Rauma pulp mill in autumn. The construction of the new facility has progressed well. The actual building is already ready and the construction of the production area inside the building will begin in early June.
Just over a third of the final biocomposite product will comprise pulp fibre from wood. The purpose of the fibre is to strengthen the material. In a recent comparison by LG, the acoustic qualities of Aqvacomp’s biocomposite turned out to be excellent.
“Our composite looks like wood, feels like wood and is an environmentally friendly alternative to oil-based plastics. Our advantage is that the product can be customised according to the application,” says Markku Nikkilä, CEO of Aqvacomp’s technology partner Elastopoli Oy.
The biocomposite is durable, light and easy to work, and it can be used to replace plastics not only in household electronics, but also in the automotive industry and the manufacture of musical instruments, where in fact the roots of both Elastopoli and Aqvacomp lie. Moreover, the carbon footprint of Aqvacomp’s biocomposite is considerably smaller than competitors’ plastics that are strengthened with glass fibre.
The proximity of the pulp mill is a definite advantage for the biocomposite manufacturer. The wet pulp fibre is directly mixed into the plastic at the pulp mill, ensuring consistent quality as well as saving energy. In addition, the biocomposite facility can utilise the electricity and heat generated by the pulp mill.
“The production of biocomposite materials from pulp is one of the spearheads of our bioproduct concept. Confirming LG as a customer for the new biocomposite is concrete evidence of the potential of Aqvacomp’s concept and product in a global context. It is also great to see how the business ecosystem around our operations has begun to grow and diversify. Aqvacomp’s new production facility, being built in Rauma, is a good example of this development. On a national level we see great potential in the business ecosystems linked to bio- and circular economies,” says Niklas von Weymarn, VP, Research at Metsä Fibre, part of Metsä Group.
Aqvacomp’s pilot facility in Sastamala has now been utilising softwood pulp from Rauma as a raw material for about a year, and deliveries for LG will start first from there. The production facility being built in Rauma will have a capacity of 5,000 tonnes per year.