Birch has become more important as a raw material. Now it is used in both Södra's new textile pulp and various interior wood products.
Research focused on new and improved products
Södra Innovation coordinates Group research and development (R&D), project management and external research collaboration, and participated in many projects during the year. The unit is a resource for all business areas, but has an emphasis on Södra Cell and Södra Timber.
Identifying good ideas and driving them to new or improved products are fundamental parts of the work, which is often done in long-term projects together with the business areas. Much of the work is focused on the improvement of products and processes. Product development takes place primarily in the areas of paper and pulp, sawn timber products, composite materials, textiles and green chemicals.
The projects are often significantly different, depending on their nature and use of varying methods. Simulations are used frequently to develop and improve both new and existing processes in Södra’s business.
Quality control and development
The project continued during the year in pulp production to establish a new quality control process based on fibre characteristics. Meters for quality control have been installed at all mills and all were in operation at year-end.
Multiple projects are under way regarding the use of wood fibres in various products. The objective is to identify new areas for wood fibres, either for the improvement of existing products or the development of new products. Research is continuously under way with regard to characteristics of products that include wood fibres, such as how durability can be improved or how new attributes can be added to the products.
Extensive project management
In the previous year, Södra Innovation established a project management office to support the company’s business areas with resources and expertise in development, verification and the introduction of new products in the Group. The office is also responsible for Södra Innovation’s project management model and tools intended to facilitate and improve the efficiency of project implementation and entails continuous improvements in the project management work.
The project management office works together with Södra Timber in the projects for Finger Jointing and Wet Lamination of boards. One task is analysing a possible future facility for finger jointing of construction timber. This involves studies of which sawmills are most suited to such an investment, the supplier market for such an effort and what a future finger-jointed product range might look like.
Wet lamination of boards has been conducted as a project with the Centre for Timber Construction and Housing (CBBT). In autumn 2010, an intensified cooperation project was begun with Södra Timber on wet lamination. A new project form was discussed with CBBT that led to collaboration with the company Wood Products in Ljungaverk regarding a trial run of the wet-lamination process on an industrial scale in spring 2011. Trial products and process design were developed and are currently undergoing a certification process.
External research collaboration
Södra participates in several joint research projects with the Chalmers University of Technology, Innventia, the Royal Institute of Technology, Karlstad University and Swerea. The projects are conducted in areas such as textile fibres, composites, lignin, recycling and processing.
The Lignofuel programme is a joint project with Innventia. The objective is to develop methods for the use of lignin in various fuels, so that fossil oil can be phased out as a fuel in pulp manufacturing. The project also studies other uses for lignin as a fuel.
An important part of the project is to ensure a successful installation of a full-scale Lignoboost facility at Södra Cell Mörrum. Besides preparation studies, this includes a follow-up of investment, process and product. At the beginning of the year, the European Commission agreed to allow the Energy Agency to provide government support, which can be crucial to an investment decision.
The development project, Turnwood, received partial financing from Formas, the Swedish Research Council for the environment, agricultural sciences and urban planning. The project began at the beginning of the year and will continue for three years. Innventia, KTH and Tetra Pak are participating as well as Södra. A barrier for the coating of packaging material is being developed and evaluated financially, technically and environmentally in the project.
The Södra research foundation
The Södra Foundation for Research, Development and Education makes grants to research projects that promote forestry and forest-industrial operations in southern Sweden.
During the year, grants were awarded to the projects Wood to Renewable Barrier, New Method for Quality Sorting of Boards, Dissolving Cellulose in Water Solutions and Trial Sawing of Elite Tree Saplings of Spruce. During the year, new grants of SEK 7 million were awarded and SEK 12 million was paid out to research projects.