Metsä Group Invests in Startup FineCell Technology to Develop Dry Cellulose Powder
The FineCell technology can turn pulp into added-value biomaterial that can be used both as a powder and as a water solution, i.e., a hydrogel.
Dec. 14, 2023 (Press Release) – Metsä Group has made its second Swedish investment in FineCell (FineCellOx AB), developer of the FineCell technology and producer of CellOx dry cellulose powder. The company will use the EUR 1 million seed funding to improve its material application know-how, engage with potential customers, and finalize the material needed for making an investment decision concerning a demo production facility. The funding round lead by Metsä Group’s innovation company Metsä Spring consists of a group of investors, including EIT InnoEnergy and the company’s founder.
The FineCell technology can turn pulp into added-value biomaterial that can be used both as a powder and as a water solution, i.e., a hydrogel. These can replace fossil-based chemicals in beauty and healthcare products, as well as in paints. FineCell is a spinout of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.
The CellOx material is made through the novel and innovative FineCell technology, which combines cellulose with a natural chemical — oxalic acid found in e.g. rhubarb — producing a new material that is completely biobased, light to ship, and compared to other similar cellulose products, requires 80-90% less energy to manufacture. CellOx can easily carry other ingredients, making it an excellent binding agent for products such as sunscreens, skin creams, and paints. It’s also transparent, enabling it to be used in a large variety of products.
“The world is scrambling to replace fossil-based materials with sustainable ones. Our product, based on softwood pulp from Nordic forests, gives many industries an alternative to the components they are currently using,” says Peter Axegård, CEO and co-owner of FineCell. “Metsä Spring has seen the potential in our innovation, and due to their know-how in planning, constructing and operating production plants, including pilots and demos, and their access to the raw material linked to their ambition to upgrade Nordic wood, they were the perfect choice to support us as we move forward.”
Globally, the race to replace fossil-based ingredients in everyday products is central to many sectors. The chemical complexity of these products means that replacing ingredients requires a clear sustainability impact without compromising performance.
“We’ve been following FineCell for some time and are delighted to now be part of their journey. For us, all technologies that convert softwood pulp into added-value products are of interest. This technology and product clearly stand out, making it especially interesting. The FineCell technology is still young. At this stage, we do not yet know all the directions that this technology platform might take us,” says Niklas von Weymarn, CEO of Metsä Spring.
FineCell aims to have the design of its demo plant ready for investment decision by the end of 2024. The company plans to have larger-scale test production underway during 2025, with full commercial production commencing in 2027.
Metsä Group is leading the way in advancing the bioeconomy with a focus on the growth sectors of the forest industry: wood supply and forest services, wood products, pulp, fresh fibre paperboards, as well as tissue and greaseproof papers.
SOURCE: Metsä Group