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From idea to proof of concept in less than two weeks

Published 24/02/2015

Despite rumours to the contrary, the rate of development can sometimes be extremely high in the paper industry. For example, one of our ideas recently produced results in record time. We went from idea to proof of concept in just 13 days – with the right opportunities in the right place.

Flexible pilot facility FEX

The paper industry may be a venerable industry, but it is not always known for its speed of development. On the contrary, it is often seen as a static, conservative industry where the route from idea to reality can be a long one.

Traditionally, ideas often end up as just that – simply ideas – for far too long. We think, we carry out detailed evaluations, and the years pass by. Ideas remain on paper. But why? There are, of course, many explanations: Can we really afford to carry out trials with the necessary large volumes? Which facility can be set aside for this, with the resulting drop in production? And how reliable can the forecasts actually be?

But it doesn't have to be this way. Our latest trial is proof of this. Given the right conditions, theory can be immediately converted into practice and the answers can be found faster than we ever thought possible – in just 13 days.

Strainer basket FEX

So what should we do? We can start by noting what is needed: the opportunity to carry out trials under conditions that are as close to industrial conditions and as realistic as possible. Ideally with smaller volumes, in a resource-efficient, flexible manner.

All this requires access to a pilot facility. But the requirements don't stop there. The pilot facility needs to have certain properties in order to deliver fast, reliable results.

To begin with, it needs to be able to work quickly, at a speed that is relevant to industry. The industrial-like conditions should therefore be as authentic as possible.

Flexible pilot facility FEXThe facility also needs to be flexible. Researchers or developers might want to be able to change the unit operation, or only run part of a process. Being able to change the settings during a run is also useful. An excellent opportunity to test the boundaries, without having to risk stoppages in a real production facility.

The facility also needs to be able to work for smaller volumes. Access to materials during a trial should not need to be the same as in full-scale production. For example, paper is often more than ten metres wide in industry, whereas a narrower paper web can be enough in a trial. It just has to perform under authentic conditions in all other respects.

White waterFinally, a good white water system is also important
in order replicate the industrial process closely. This is necessary not least in order to test the action and effectiveness of chemicals, fibres and fillers. Here, the solution is a closed system for circulating the process water.

Access to such a pilot facility makes the next step much easier. You will then be able to see immediately what still needs to be examined more closely in order to progress, based on practical, early results.

So how did Innventia achieve its record-fast results? Researcher Christian Andersson is studying how fibres can be used as effectively as possible. It was Christian who came up with the idea for the trial, and he summarises it as follows: "The idea was there, the opportunity arose, and I seized it." By 'opportunity', he means the right conditions: actually having access to a pilot facility with the above-mentioned properties. With the right conditions, there is no reason to wait.

So let's work together to capture the opportunities, and to turn our ideas into reality. What are your ideas?

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