VTT, Tampere University of Applied Sciences and building and packing industry companies develop together sustainable and pro-environmental materials to new applications. The project also pursues networking, internationalisation of Finnish companies and creation of new business opportunities based on circular economy.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and EU legislation speed up the need for biobased materials and applications.
“The purpose of the BeLight project is to develop biobased and possibly also biodegradable solutions to lightweight foamy structures. We concentrate on material and process development as well as application development. Hence, we promote circular economy in building and packaging industry,” says Project Manager Lisa Wikström from VTT.
The study is conducted by VTT and Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK). Both the study and development process are directed by the 14 cooperation companies. The two-year project is financed by Business Finland.
High demand in the industry
The new regulations cause a high demand for environmentally friendly solutions. New approaches are needed for soundproofing, thermal insulation, protective packaging and filtering in buildings, industry and transportation.
“In the BeLight project we have two alternative approaches to substitute foamy structures in packages and construction materials that are at present made of fossil raw materials. With foam forming technology we develop porous cellulose fibre based foams, and with extrusion and particle foaming technology we advance biobased polymer foams,” Wikström explains.
The project outcomes will include prototypes and demos. The team wants to ensure that the new solutions function in real conditions. Furthermore, recyclability is strongly involved in the research work.
“We aim to understand how the new materials replacing for example styrofoam and bubble wrap fit in the present and future recycling processes.”
Sustainable growth and internationalisation
The aim is to utilise the project results commercially, both nationally and internationally. Business Finland, which funds the project, creates new growth by helping companies to expand their businesses internationally.
“We are interested in how the world can develop further and how this development affects Finland and Finnish companies. Bioeconomy is one of our focus areas,” says Markku Lämsä from Business Finland.
Talented education and working life experts involved
Tampere University of Applied Sciences, which conducts the second part of the project study, focuses on working-life based learning. “Our mission is to be an expert in circular and bioeconomy. Our technical and commercial know-how is wide. We have modern laboratories and learning environments which we make good use of together with the companies,” describes Ulla Häggblom, Principal Lecturer of TAMK’s School of Built Environment and Bioeconomy.
According to Häggblom, multidisciplinary students equipped with circular economy based thinking will bring new know-how to the industry. The cooperation with European and American universities intensifies the study and facilitates networking of the participating companies.
The BeLight project companies are Artekno, Finnfoam, Brightplus, Tikkurila, NMC Cellfoam, Fiberwood, Paptic, Evere, Cre4tive, Eagle Filters, Aisti Corporation, EarthPac, Vaisala and Sulapac.