The province of BC is joining forces with a leading-edge, not-for-profit research institute to help advance a bio-friendly technology that will expand the market for B.C. wood fibre and help secure jobs in the forest industry, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson recently announced.
B.C. is providing $2.25 million to FPInnovations, to help research and develop cellulose filament technology. Specifically, the funding will support Vancouver-based research on cellulose filament and its applications for B.C.'s wood pulp sector.
Cellulose filament, known as CF in the industry, is a flexible, wood-fibre-based additive that can be readily mixed with other materials to improve the quality of a range of products. It is fully recyclable, environmentally friendly and compatible with water-based products like wood pulps.
CF has immediate applications to the province's pulp and paper industry where it could be used in stronger and less-expensive products like newsprint, packaging, tissues, and paper towels. Eventually, CF could be used in a range of products, from flexible plastic packaging to photographic film to structural and non-structural panels in building construction.
FPInnovations is a research organization that specializes in the creation of scientific solutions in support of the Canadian forest sector's global competitiveness. It estimates that the North American annual demand for CF could soon exceed 250,000 tons, as markets for the additive expand.
President and CEO, FPInnovations, Pierre Lapointe said B.C.'s targeted investment in research and development will positively impact traditional markets for wood fibre while leading to the development of innovative new products.
"Cellulose filaments are set to become a key element in the transformation of the Canadian pulp and paper industry enabling the industry to gain a foot-hold in non-traditional markets while building on existing manufacturing capacity in forest-dependent communities across Canada," he said.
The CF investment is in line with the BC Jobs Plan and supports the provincial forest sector strategy of expanding markets by developing innovative ways of using wood and wood fibre.
The funding is part of a national, $43.1 million CF research and development project supported by the federal government, B.C., Quebec, and industry.
"Supporting the national CF research program will help diversify B.C.'s forest sector and build our bio-economy, especially in areas like the design and manufacture of innovative coatings, packaging and engineered components," said Thomson. "Building this kind of flexibility into our forest economy will help retain jobs for years to come."