The Exilva project is a part of Borregaard’s set-up and running of the first industrial scale plant for producing microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) in addition to develop advance market segments for the use of this product. It is funded under the BBI JU program of EUs Horizon 2020 effort, and Exilva MFC is produced at the flagship factory in Sarpsborg. In this project, NORSUS has used life cycle assessment (LCA) as a tool to scrutinise the social and environmental properties of microfibrillated cellulose and the applications to which Exilva MFC is used as ingredient. MFC can be used in a wide range of products, and it can enhance properties like rheology, surface area and water holding capacity.
Analyses of the climate change emissions from cradle to grave for products with and without Exilva MFC shows that the burdens are reduced by using MFC. The reductions are mainly caused by reductions in the use of chemicals, and because one can replace some ingredients with water. This leads to reduces emissions along the whole value chain, and especially for transport.
The reports from the EU project are confidential, however preliminary results were presented by Ingunn Saur Modahl and Ellen Soldal at the Tappi Nano conference in Wisconsin in 2018 . Ingunn presented results for MFC used in several applications . and Ellen focused on use of MFC used in beverage containers .
In this project, NORSUS has also published four LCA datasets in publicly available databases. In general, there are few LCA datasets available for free, and as of today no datasets for microfibrillated cellulose have been available at all. Hence, it is progress for the LCA society to have publicly available LCA data for MFC. This will make it possible for LCA practitioners to make their own models of product systems containing MFC, which can be useful for research and product development. Hopefully this can lead to reduced environmental burdens for several products in the future.
The EU funded Exilva project started in May 2016 and ended in April 2020. The research was supported by funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 709746.