Biobased pilot plant for those interested
We have recently set up a biobased pilot plant in our factory to test the potential of alternative raw materials for making paper. Junior process engineer Joep Verbaanderd: "We are already well advanced in our pilot plant with research into the use of elephant grass (Miscanthus) as a raw material for producing paper. As a leader in the field of Corporate Social Responsibility, we are happy to make our pilot plant and our knowledge and expertise available to third parties who would also like to use alternative raw materials for the production of their products."
The pilot plant offers opportunities for companies that are interested in creating value in the biobased economy from crops which almost always contains cellulose, according to Joep Verbaanderd. "We can produce pulp for them which they can sell elsewhere. Furthermore, as an experienced paper manufacturer, we can test what paper can be produced with this pulp. Our factory is home not only to this biobased pilot plant, but also houses a professional laboratory where tests can be performed."
The biobased pilot plant was initially installed as an interim step towards making elephant grass paper. "We wanted to be able to monitor the process conditions in a pilot factory when using a large volume of 200 kilograms of elephant grass in the machines, so that we can ultimately use elephant grass as an alternative raw material to be mixed with our current production", explained Verbaanderd. "The laboratory is equipped to convert very small quantities in the test phase, but is not suitable for large quantities."
The process technology department has in recent years gathered a great deal of expertise in searching for and converting alternative raw materials for paper. Joep Verbaanderd: "It is not our intention to keep that expertise to ourselves; we want to offer it to interested companies that also want to save the environment in their demand for raw materials. We have the people, the equipment and the technology to support interested parties in their quest. This is how we remain innovative and constantly create new ideas."
This is also how the idea came about to install a pilot factory in our factory, together with Noble Environmental Technologies, where both companies share their knowledge and experience in order to make innovative ECOR-products. "Once again, we can use alternative raw materials that we can test initially in the laboratory and subsequently on a larger scale in the biobased plant", says Joep Verbaanderd. "This means that the process technology department is increasingly becoming the Research and Development Department. That too, is innovation."