Stora Esno invests USD 10 mn in pilot facility

Stora Enso is investing USD 10 million to build a pilot facility for producing bio-based plastics as barrier in transparent packaging.

13 Dec 2019 | By Aultrin Vijay

The new pilot project will be run by Stora Enso’s biomaterials division

The pilot plant will convert plant-based sugars into renewable building blocks required to make PEF, a bio-based plastic, mainly targeting the food and beverage industry. The plant will be located at Stora Enso’s Langerbrugge Mill in Belgium.

The investment in bio-based chemistry further strengthens Stora Enso’s opportunities to replace fossil-based materials with renewable and recyclable materials.

The pilot plant would be focusing on developing a cost-competitive process for manufacturing furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) from sugars. FDCA is a key component of the bio-based barrier material polyethylene furanoate (PEF). In addition to its renewable nature, PEF’s attractive barrier, mechanical and thermal properties open up new packaging opportunities, such as small liquid containers for soft drinks, juices and other beverages.

Markus Mannström, executive vice president of Stora Enso’s biomaterials division, said, “Bio-based materials are of rapidly growing interest in the packaging world as companies look for sustainable packaging materials with high performance.”

“With this pilot, we continue to build on our long-term R&D work while targeting new markets with innovative, renewable materials that replace fossil-based materials. We believe that innovation does not happen in isolation. We are, therefore, looking forward to expanding our cooperation within the field of bio-based chemicals,” he added.

Stora Enso’s pilot aims to validate the chemical process and provide sample material to gain further insight into market need and product demand. The pilot facility will initially use industrially available fructose to produce chemicals and materials for application testing. The company intends to run the process on sugars extracted from wood and other non-food biomasses in future.

The new pilot project will be run by Stora Enso’s biomaterials division. The design and engineering of the pilot facility have started, and construction will begin in the second half of 2020. The plant is estimated to be ready in the first quarter of 2021. Decisions about commercialisation will follow after evaluating the results of the pilot-scale production.

Stora Enso’s Langerbrugge Mill is one the largest paper mills in Europe, producing 540 000 tonnes of recycled newsprint and magazine papers annually. The production is exclusively based on paper for recycling. The pilot plant investment will not impact the mill’s paper production.

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