Performance additive have historically often been sourced from synthetic oil derived sources. These additives have been very important for the evolution of final end-user products throughout several industries, but their effect on the environment has always raised questions on finding more environmentally friendly alternatives.
Microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) is a new and novel performance additive, based on one of the most abundant raw materials worldwide, namely cellulose from wood. The world of MFC started in academia in the early 1980s, through research conducted by Turbak and his team. They produced small quantities using a dairy homogenizer, and the idea of MFC was born. No commercial activity has taken place in the field of MFC until in 2014 where Borregaard announced its decision to construct the world’s first plant for producing MFC in Sarpsborg, Norway. The goal for Borregaard is to produce and sell the MFC into applications like paint, coatings, adhesives, personal care, home care, agricultural chemicals and more. The MFC is in several application fields competing against oil derived competitors, thus providing producers with an opportunity to obtain performance from a natural additive.
The Exilva project is directly linked to the BBI Joint Undertaking under the Horizon 2020 research program. One of the goals of BBI is to facilitate set-up of flagship plants for producing biobased alternatives to fossil-based products. To do this, you need to be at least as effective as these fossil-based alternatives. The type of MFC performance additives will be an important alternative in both short term and long term future, exactly due to its effectiveness in relation to the fossil based alternatives.