Friday 15 March 2013

Biodegradable Diapers from recycled cardboard

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a process that enables recycled paper and cardboard to be used as a raw material for nonwovens. Hygiene and home care products, such as nappies, sanitary towels and cleaning cloths, are among the many items that can be manufactured from the biodegradable nonwovens. The manufacturing costs of cardboard-based nonwovens are around 20% lower than for nonwovens produced from wood raw materials. The forest industry will be among those likely to benefit from new business opportunities opened up by nonwovens based on recycled paper and cardboard.

Nonwovens are essentially consumer goods that once used will end up in a landfill site along with other community waste. In the metropolitan area alone, an estimated 10,000 tonnes of nappies and sanitary towels are disposed of each year. The principle raw material in nonwovens manufacture is biologically non-degradable polyester. Up to now, market entry for bio-based nonwovens derived from wood has stalled because of prohibitive production costs.

“Now for the first time we can make use of recycled paper and cardboard as a nonwovens raw material,” says Ali Harlin, Research Professor at VTT. “The new process means that bio-based nonwovens are now more competitive on price in comparison with plastic-based products. The manufacturing costs of cardboard-based nonwovens are around 20% lower than for nonwovens produced from wood raw materials. New business opportunities should open up fairly rapidly, since the technology required for manufacturing nonwovens from recycled materials is already in place.”

Every year Europe generates around 60 million tonnes of recycled paper, of which cardboard makes up around 40%. The demand exists for new applications and technology for exploiting recycled paper due to the EU’s objective of raising the proportion of recycled paper to 70 per cent. The method developed by VTT could extend future possibilities for re-use, particularly in the case of cardboard, which is more cost-effective as a raw material than fine paper.

Cleansing the cardboard of filler material, lignin and hemicellulose is a key part of nonwovens manufacture. VTT has matched several fibre-processing methods in the preparation of dissolving pulp to assist in obtaining pure cellulose from the recycled cardboard. The dissolving pulp produced in the research project was regenerated using VTT’s patented carbamate technology, which is safer and more environmentally friendly than the traditional viscose process. The nonwovens were manufactured with foam forming technology that uses little water.

Around 1.9 million tonnes of various types of nonwovens were manufactured in Europe in 2011. Strong growth in the global market for nonwovens is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. Apart from hygiene, health and cleaning products, the nonwovens have further applications in, among others, the construction industry.

Saturday 2 March 2013

Nippon Paper Makes Cellulose Nanofibres from Pulp

Nippon Paper Industries Co., Ltd. (President: Yoshio Haga) has decided to build new verification and production facilities for cellulose nanofibers at Iwakuni Mill of Chemical Division to develop the cellulose nanofiber business using pulp as materials.

Cellulose nanofibers are materials obtained by breaking plant fibers (pulp) down to the nano-order level, several orders of magnitude smaller than a micron. They provide excellent features: the elasticity is as high as that of aramid fibers known for high intense fiber, they stretch well just like glass as temperature changes, and they provide high barrier performance to gas, including oxygen. Also, as they come from plant fibers, they are characterized by a low environmental footprint in production and disposal, as well as light weight. Cellulose nanofibers are expected to find many applications, such as reinforcements, thickener and gas barrier materials.

The new verification and production facilities for cellulose nanofibers will have an annual production capacity of 30 or more tons, and will start production in October 2013. The facilities will make it easy to disintegrate pulp by implementing prior treatment chemically. The basic development for this has already been conducted in a project called “Research and Development of Nanodevices for Practical Utilization of Nanotechnology” at the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). The new facilities will be Japan’s first full-fledged facilities producing cellulose nanofibers by chemical treatment. This project plan has been selected for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s innovation site support business, “Subsidies for Maintenance, etc. of Advanced Technology Verification and Assessment Facilities.”

The establishment of the facilities enables the full-scale supply of samples to facilitate the cellulose nanofiber business, and accelerates the development of applications. As a comprehensive biomass company, the Nippon Paper Group plans to enhance its technology to promote the overall use of forest resources, which are recyclable resources, and expand its business domains.