Pulp Key to Green-Up Concrete as Metsä Eyes Big Lignin Plans!

The EU is investing in improving timber and pulp recovery to drive decarbonisation as part of its signature Green Deal.’

Sun 24 Mar 24


Europe’s pulp and paper giants are at the forefront of the push to drive the EU’s ‘Green New Deal’.

They are partnering with material scientists across the world to create a suite of new, fully circular products using Lignin – a wood composite traditionally discarded in the manufacturing

Already, Finnish scientists are working with Stora Enso, Metsä Group and UPM to create fine carbon powders that are used in lithium-ion batteries, asphalt and even textiles in clothing.

Now, Metsä Group is partnering with ANDRITZ Pulp & Paper and Dow, a leading material science company, to build a new plant to produce bio-dispersant plasticisers for concrete and gypsum applications.

The new product is being billed as a game changer for construction, with Dow Chemicals Global Business Director Raquel Fortes stating that the new technology “is key to meet the future needs of the building and construction industry.”

Plasticisers are a substance or materials added to concrete, or gypsum to make it softer, improve workability and strength, and reduce water requirements. However, until now, they’ve only been available in two forms: mineral admixtures, like fly ash, and chemical admixtures, like Superplasticisers.

The panels are made from layers of concrete, insulation, and load-bearing laminated veneer lumber (Photo Credit: Heidelberg Materials Precast Contiga)
Last week, Wood Central reported that Metsa Wood was working with Heidelberg Materials Precast Contiga to create new panels made from layers of concrete, insulation, and load-bearing laminated veneer lumber (Photo Credit: Heidelberg Materials Precast Contiga) 

The latest development comes after Metsä Group’s wood division successfully commercialised the world’s first ‘hybrid timber-concrete sandwich,’ with the new material disrupting the wall panelling market.

It also comes after the three partners successfully demonstrated, as part of an EU project undertaken by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, that modified lignin is a viable replacement for fossil-based chemicals in concrete production.

Wood Central understands that Metsä Group will construct the new demo plant in connection with its Äänekoski bioproduct mill— its largest plant – with construction slated to begin mid-2024 ahead of an opening in 2025. At its peak, the new demo plant will produce two tonnes of Lignin daily, with the scope to increase as the partners commercialise the product.

“Our goal is to efficiently use the side streams of pulp production and ensure they produce the greatest possible added value,” according to Ismo Nousiainen, CEO of Metsä Fibre. “We want to develop new products made from renewable natural resources that can replace fossil-based raw materials and products.”

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The Äänekoski mill area is Metsä Group’s largest, housing a paperboard, veneer and bioproduct mill. Äänekoski is also home to Metsä Group’s demo plants for the Kuura textile fibre and Muoto fibre product. (Photo Credit: Supplied)

Lignin, which makes up 20 to 30% of the wood composite, has traditionally been discarded as waste by the pulp and paper industries. 

However, times are changing, with ANDRITZ investing in lignin recovery and modification technology to assist global pulp in converting side streams into value-added products.

“We are thrilled to be able to test this technology in continuous process conditions at the Äänekoski bioproduct mill,” Kari Tuominen, CEO & President of ANDRITZ Oy, said.

“Besides validating markets for the new lignin product, the demo scale gives us valuable insights for integrating the LigniOx process into a bioproduct mill and scaling it up for industrial use.”

The latest development coincides with Metsä Group signing a partnership agreement with ANDRITZ to reduce Scope 3 emissions across its Metsä fibre based supply chain.

The project will determine the most significant development targets, metrics and goals with which the total emissions of the value chain can be reduced.

“The collaboration shows how important our sustainability work is to reduce emissions from the value chain and sourcing,” according to Jari Voutilainen, SVP of Sourcing and Logistics at Metsä Group. Ari-Pekka Määttänen, SVP EMEA at ANDRITZ Pulp & Paper, added that “the partnership not only reflects our commitment to advanced greenhouse gas emission management methods but also enables the implementation of more effective emission reduction methods, which would be much more challenging if acting alone.”


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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