ExpandFibre

Accelerating the development of sustainable bioproducts

ExpandFibre is a joint R&D programme launched by Fortum and Metsä Group, focusing on upgrading pulp fibre from renewable and sustainable sources of straw and northern wood into new bioproducts. Its ambition is to meet the growing demands for sustainable textile fibres and other added value biomaterials.

Our mission

The ExpandFibre programme aims to develop ground-breaking technologies and smart business concepts that are required to convert straw and pulp fibre into novel bioproducts, such as textile fibres. The joint mission of this ambitious R&D programme is to be able to provide selected markets with high-volume bioproducts that have a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to currently available (fossil-based) products.

ExpandFibre is challenging other actors of the related value chains to accelerate their efforts in building a world-leading innovation ecosystem together and subsequently, enable new bioproducts and green businesses to reach commercial maturity. The new innovations to be developed have the potential of offering remarkable revenue streams for several value chain participants such as farmers, forest owners, refiners and end-product manufacturers.

Textiles

High-quality textile fibres and their applicability in wearable and non-woven textiles

Biocomposites

Novel composites based on pulp fibres and other sustainable feedstocks

Packaging

New packaging materials and products to replace plastics

Other fibre products

New fibre-based products for various markets and new value chains

Hemicellulose products

High value chemical and ingredient applications

Lignin products

High value chemical and material applications

Sourcing & fractionation of straw

Sustainable sourcing and efficient fractionation concepts

Why Fortum & Metsä Group?

Both Fortum and Metsä Group have strategic targets to build new and sustainable biobased businesses of considerable scale. The two companies also have long experience in developing their operations through open innovation in partner networks and ecosystems. Both companies share a belief that joining forces will increase the probability to succeed in ground-breaking and large-scale R&D initiatives.

While their focus is on different raw materials (straw for Fortum, wood pulp for Metsä Group), both companies have multiple complementing capabilities and solutions. Both feedstocks deliver the same high standards in life cycle assessments and can be used to produce fibres for textiles, nonwovens and many other high-value products. The joint R&D will speed up innovation, decrease risks and support in building the critical mass needed to solve key challenges.

Frequently asked questions

What is ExpandFibre? Who is involved in it?

ExpandFibre is an ambitious R&D programme led by two significant Finnish companies, Fortum and Metsä Group. From Metsä Group, the participating business units are Metsä Spring Oy, Metsä Fibre Oy and Metsä Board Oyj. From Fortum, the biorefinery programme Bio2X and Fortum Recycling and Waste Solutions are the active partners in ExpandFibre. In addition, a multitude of small and large companies, research organisations and other partners are welcome to join the ExpandFibre innovation ecosystem throughout the lifetime of the programme.

How is ExpandFibre funded?

The R&D programme led by Fortum and Metsä has a total budget of 50 M€ out of which 20 M€ is funded by Business Finland. Fortum’s share is 32 M€ (12.8 M€ funding) and Metsä Group’s 18 M€ (7.2 M€). The rest of the funding comes from the companies themselves. In addition, for ecosystem-led projects in the ExpandFibre innovation ecosystem, funding can be sought from public national (e.g. Business Finland) and European sources.

What are the concrete activities of the programme?

Within ExpandFibre, Fortum and Metsä Group will launch projects related to the seven themes and also seek for complementing ecosystem projects in Finland and abroad. Finnish ecosystem partners can apply for funding from Business Finland for their projects.

How long does the programme run?

ExpandFibre was launched in May 2020 and is expected to run until August 2024.

Is the programme only for Finnish partners?

No, international partners are also very welcome. No serious innovation ecosystem is built on partners from only one country.

What kind of consumer products will be developed in this programme?

The programme is expected to produce technology and material innovations related to a multitude of market sectors. Examples of possible end products include clothing, non-woven products such as medical textiles, and packaging for food and other goods. Notably, ExpandFibre is still an R&D programme. The actual commercialization efforts take place after ExpandFibre has lifted the technology or concept to a needed maturity level.

Where does the wood pulp come from?

Metsä Group’s pulp production is based on pulp wood from sustainably managed northern forests. Regardless of whether the wood comes from certified forests, we always know its origin and verify that the wood origin is legal and that the supply chain is acceptable and sustainable. Most of the wood Metsä Group uses comes from family-owned forests reof the 103,000 Finnish forest owners who owner-members of Metsäliitto Cooperative. We use our northern wood sustainably: in Finland forests grow 40% faster than they are used.

Where does the straw come from?

Straw is an agricultural byproduct from the cultivation of cereal crops like wheat. Farmers typically collect and store the straw in bales, which can easily be transported to biorefinery facilities.

How does this benefit Finnish economy?

R&D carried out in this programme will contribute to the target of Fortum, Metsä Group and the ecosystem partners to commercialize new bioproducts. Optimally, this leads to investments, creation of new jobs and increased exports from Finland.

How can I join the ecosystem?

Kindly fill in the contact form on this page with a brief description on your field of expertise and interest. We will be in touch with you later in the autumn of 2020 when the programme is launched and we can provide more details on how to join the ecosystem.

Contact Us

ExpandFibre Programme Managers

Fortum
Heli Virkki, Senior Manager
heli.virkki@fortum.com
+358505642426

Metsä Group
Katariina Kemppainen, Investment Manager, Metsä Spring
katariina.kemppainen@metsagroup.com
+358503752212

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