Metsä Group’s innovation company Metsä Spring is developing a new method for using Metsä Group’s softwood pulp to produce the Kuura textile fibre. Adjustments to the original production method and equipment are now being made at the Äänekoski demo plant, which has been operating since late 2020. The development work at the demo plant will then continue in the early summer.
The global demand for textile fibres has continued to grow after a market disruption caused by the pandemic. Interest has been shown especially in sustainably produced textile fibres that replace materials made out of oil, natural gas and cotton. Metsä Group’s Kuura textile fibre, currently under development, is one of these sustainable alternatives. In addition to having a strong connection to sustainably grown Finnish wood raw material from family-owned forests, Kuura benefits from its integration with an efficient bioproduct mill and offers a particularly small environmental footprint.
“We ended up making changes to our original project plan. We mainly need to make changes to the process chemistry, which also calls for equipment improvements. I believe the changes will give a considerable boost to our development work,” says Niklas von Weymarn, CEO of Metsä Spring.
The goal of Metsä Spring’s Kuura project is to develop a competitive concept that will enable Metsä Group to consider the commercial production of the textile fibre. This would also require the construction of the first commercial mill. The prerequisites for this will be assessed in 2024. The idea is to construct the first commercial mill in Finland. The planning of the mill’s technical concept has already been started.
In addition to developing the production method of the Kuura textile fibre, we are also collecting customer feedback. This customer collaboration is done by Itochu. The Japanese general trading and investment company Itochu is one of the world’s leading players in the textile sector, with around 100 offices in more than 60 countries.