WoBiCo is a competence project associated with the main Green Platform project "From wood to sustainable biocomposites" led by Norske Skog SAUGBRUGS. The objective in the main project is to develop materials and solutions based on renewable resources from the forest, which will lead to reduced usage of petroleum-based materials. The idea is to replace plastics with TMP fibres and/or CNF fibres, to make biocomposites with either thermoplastics or thermoset plastics. CNF are very small cellulose fibres (called nanofibrils) which can improve melt properties and the strength of plastic products (biocomposites), thermosets and coatings. TMP are thermo-mechanically separated wood fibres, which are significantly larger than CNF, and can also be used to make thermoplastic-based biocomposites with increased strength. In the main project, the focus is on upscaling products and solutions from lab scale to industrial scale through industrial research, by actively using a pilot plant of industrial scale and full-scale trials at the industrial partners of the consortium.
In WoBiCo these biobased materials will be further developed. The fibres will be modified to reduce the moist absorption of biocomposites. We will study how the properties of these biocomposites evolve over time (ageing) and the effect of these fibres on the processing properties of plastics. Recycling of the materials and their behaviour in a circular value chain together with other plastic materials will also be studied. In addition to work with wood fibres we will develop solutions for manufacturing of bio-based feedstock (green chemicals) which can be used to make fully biobased plastic raw materials. The aim is to use chemicals and gases which today are considered "waste" from the production of paper by Norske Skog.
In WoBiCo 4 research institutions will cooperate with Norske Skog and ZEG Power. The knowledge generated within the competence project will give important contributions to the main project.
Norske Skog Saugbrugs, one of Norway's largest pulp and paper manufacturer, is responsible and manager of the main Green Platform Industry Project "Fra tre til biobaserte polymerprodukter (From wood to biobased polymer products)" which this competence project WoBiCo is a part of. In the main project Saugbrugs, together with 8 industry partners and 2 R&D institutes, will develop solutions that will ensure a transition from fossil based to biobased materials as basis for sustainable biocomposites. As a step towards this goal Saugbrugs is in the process of developing two product families for enhancing properties of conventional thermoplastics and thermosets: Cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) product Cebina for modifying rheology and strength enhancer of thermosets, adhesives and biocomposites. The other is thermo-mechanical pulp (TMP) fibres to be used as reinforcing additive to thermoplastic biocomposite materials.
However, to further improve the Platform, WoBiCo competence project focuses on relevant research challenges to optimize these product categories and further foster the transition to a completely biobased solution.
The overall objective of WoBiCo is to generate knowledge and technology enabling sustainable production and use of TMP and CNF based thermoplastic composites and valuable use of fibre and paper production waste as a source for polymer production.
The outcome of the project has two main impacts on the society:
1. WoBiCo will contribute to the required restructuring of the Norwegian manufacturing industry, in the shift from a petroleum-based economy to a green economy
2. The Norwegian forest-based sector is in strong need for new production of forest-based products in Norway, securing value-added conversion of the whole range of forest-based raw materials, where forest-based biomass appears as a promising resource. It is thus of critical importance to find future large volume products. Biocomposites are products with this potential.