8 Oktober 2020

VTT’s new piloting platform for process chemistry ready for speeding up bio- and circular economy

With the launch of the piloting platform for process chemistry, VTT Bioruukki strengthens its position among the world's leading piloting centres

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VTT’s new piloting platform for process chemistry in VTT Bioruukki Pilot Centre will have an impact on our everyday life: on what we wear, on what we eat, on how we move around. It has been designed to accelerate corporate bio- and circular economy projects. The modernisation and digitalisation of processes offer improved tools for developing, for example, chemical plastics recycling. 

“At VTT Bioruukki and its chemistry pilot facility, now celebrating its opening, we aim to solve some of the biggest challenges of our time: climate change and sustainable use of natural resources. At the same time, we are reforming companies’ business activities and creating growth opportunities for them. During its five-year journey, VTT Bioruukki has proven its strength and acted as a catalyst for breakthroughs that provide solutions to many of the megachallenges the world is facing,” says VTT President & CEO Antti Vasara.

With the launch of the piloting platform for process chemistry, VTT Bioruukki strengthens its position among the world’s leading piloting centres. “We use the piloting platform for chemistry to develop new value-added products from bio- and recycled materials.  It complements the existing process technologies at VTT Bioruukki, providing a holistic production chain from raw materials to final products. Some of the raw materials used have been considered very difficult to recycle,” says Jussi Manninen, Executive Vice President at VTT.

More than 20 years of process chemistry innovations

VTT launched its pilot plant operations on process chemistry towards the end of the 1990s in Rajamäki and Espoo in Southern Finland. The purpose of piloting is to scale up new ideas and methods verified in laboratory conditions towards industrial scale. VTT has carried out this kind of R&D for such purposes as renewing the production of starch-based paper chemicals, pretreatment of renewable fuel feedstock, synthesizing of specialty chemicals and polymers, and production of cellulose-based textile fibres.

Plastic waste to chemical recycling

One of the most important tasks of VTT Bioruukki’s piloting platform for process chemistry is to develop alternative plastic materials and recycling of plastics. Chemical recycling offers an efficient way for meeting the recycling targets set for plastic materials, also enabling the use of low-quality recycled materials for the industry.

Chemical plastics recycling is one of the five areas of exponential hope on a list recently published by VTT CEO Antti Vasara. By investing in the five areas presented, Finland and Europe could improve their chances of success. In addition, VTT’s A Circular Economy of Plastics publication explores solutions to the plastics dilemma, including ecodesign, sorting, mechanical recycling technologies, reduction of the use of fossil raw materials and chemical plastics recycling.

VTT Bioruukki Pilot Centre lowers the business risk of product development

Established in Espoo, in 2015, VTT Bioruukki is a significant piloting centre even in a world scale. It provides Finnish industrial and SME sector operators with an opportunity to commercialise and develop their product and process concepts at an accelerated pace and reduced cost. As businesses are advancing towards commercialisation in their product development, they can reduce their risk by taking advantage of the services offered by VTT experts and research environments. This allows them to skip building their own piloting platforms and thus save significant amounts of time and money. In their development projects, companies can also use the services of the European Pilots4U network.

Since 2014, a total of about EUR 35 million has been invested in VTT Bioruukki Pilot Centre in various phases to provide piloting platforms for thermochemical conversion, biomass processing, textile fibre manufacturing and, as the latest addition, process chemistry. Major investments have also been made in pilots on wood-fibre-based materials in Jyväskylä and in plastics processing and mechanical recycling equipment in Tampere.

Opening on 23rd September

A virtual opening of the piloting platform for process chemistry at VTT Bioruukki will be held on 23rd September 2020 at 3-4 pm. The recording of the event will be available later.

 

Source: VTT, press release, 2020-09-23.

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