The Biofore Company
UPM Plywood’s new composite technology is the outcome of years of dedicated R&D work aimed at bringing advanced new properties and features to plywood and making it a leading composite material for applications where superior strength-to-weight performance is a priority.
Around half of UPM’s overall R&D goes on developing new technologies and businesses, and during recent years, the emphasis has been on new value-added uses for forest biomass, such as biofuels, biochemicals, biocomposites, and nanocellulose.
In the biofuels area, for example, UPM and Andritz/Carbona recently completed the initial testing programme on Carbona’s gasification technology in the US for second-generation biomass-to-liquid (BTL) biodiesel; while in biochemicals, the focus has been on research into replacing oil-based chemicals with biochemicals in various UPM products.
Work is continuing on nanocellulose research at the Finnish Centre for Nanocellulosic Technologies established by UPM, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, and Aalto University in 2008. Nanocellulose offers a range of possibilities for shaping materials made of wood fibre into stronger, lighter, and thinner products. To date, work has concentrated on speciality paper and paper coating, but in the future the emphasis is expected to shift to applications for other industries, such as construction, packaging, food, and cosmetics.
In Finland, the UPM Research Centre in Lappeenranta focuses on fibres and fibre raw materials, paper, coating and printing, biofuels, and biochemicals; the UPM Biorefinery Development Centre on biofuels and biochemicals; the WISA R&D Centre on plywood and composites; while labelstock R&D takes place in Tampere.
Outside Finland, UPM’s recycled fibre research is based in Augsburg in Germany, while the UPM Asia R&D Centre in China is responsible for researching raw materials based on local fibre, as well as providing manufacturing and technical customer service support for UPM’s production units in China and the Asia-Pacific region.
In addition, UPM is a partner in Forestcluster Ltd., established to network top-level research and innovation in the Finnish forest cluster; and collaborates with a number of research institutions and universities worldwide.