Greenreality Network’s newest member Fiber-X Finland Oy building a biotechnology centre of expertise in Lemi

Fiber-X Finland Oy was founded in 2019 as a companion for the Swedish Fiber-X AB. The company’s CEO Mikko Ruuska has learned a lot from Heikki Sojakka, the head of their Swedish affiliate.

Heikki has trained hundreds of paper mill workers on his own machine”, says Ruuska.

– In addition to this training, he has been involved in about 100 research and development projects, which have generated numerous commercial innovations – for example, a beer bottle made out of straw fibre for Carlsberg.

Since Sojakka actually had two paper machines in his possession, he decided to send one for Ruuska to use in South Karelia for much the same purposes as in Sweden. Ruuska now plans to install the 30-metre-long paper machine in Lemi to develop new technology for the bioindustry.

New fibre materials under development

Fiber-X Finland Oy wants to find alternative sources for pulp fibre to support the use of cellulose as a substitute for plastic.

– Fossil-based and plastic products are now being replaced with pulp fibre, and as a result, the demand for cellulose will increase significantly, Ruuska explains.

– There is now a risk that forests will be cut down too quickly and carbon sinks will be reduced.

In order to compensate for the growing demand for pulp fibre, alternative raw materials must be sought to maintain or even increase carbon sinks while replacing plastics with more renewable raw materials.

Ruuska has recently focused on researching willow, among others, as a fibre raw material.

Willow grows quickly and does not need much soil to grow on – wasteland or areas unsuitable for reforestation are suitable for willow. Willow is therefore well suited to produce energy, and a willow bio-plant can, for example, produce energy for the district heating network. Ruuska, however, is aiming at something else.

– I think we should turn willow into value added products. For example, polyphenol compounds in the bark can be used for antiviral compounds, bark fibres are suitable for biocomposites and packaging materials, and the core can be turned into nanocellulose or activated charcoal, Ruuska explains.

– We have also made several innovations using straw and hemp fibre, and we are actively involved in several research projects in which they are developed into commercialised products.

There are plenty of possibilities, but inventions must also be funded and then put to commercial use.

Aiming for a continuous funding model

Ruuska intends to use his paper machine to provide piloting and demonstration services to external customers. In addition, the machine is used for research projects and expert training.

The piloting and training projects provide Fiber-X Finland Oy with money that the company can invest in its own product development projects.

– Our aim is to develop an operating model that enables us to combine continuous innovation, financing, and commodification, Ruuska says.

– This way we want to produce new start-ups and joint ventures in Kaakonkulma together with our financiers and partner companies.

Ruuska is delighted that right now the outlook is very good and that the plant is about to be completed.

– We are about to step things up!

For more information, please contact:

Mikko Ruuska, CEO
Fiber-X Finland Oy
tel. +358 45 328 2002, mikko.ruuska@fiber-x.fi

Greenreality Network:
Markku Mäki-Hokkonen, Development Manager
City of Lappeenranta, Greenreality
tel. +358 40 569 5515, markku.maki-hokkonen@lappeenranta.fi