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The current situation

Innventia, in cooperation with Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, has developed a process for extracting lignin from black liquor from the kraft pulp mill process. This process is called LignoBoost, and has been owned since 2008 by Valmet, which has sold two plants thus far. Lignin from these two facilities could in theory be converted into bio-based carbon fibre which would result in a volume that corresponds to more than half of the world’s current carbon fibre production.

Many companies, Energimyndigheten and VINNOVA are interested in the LignoBoost process. Several forest industry companies are currently financing R&D in lignin and lignin-based carbon fibre at Innventia. Innventia has submitted two patent applications for lignin-based carbon fibre. Today, Innventia can manufacture continuous mono-filament lignin fibres and use this material to produce carbon fibres that are decimetres in length. By the autumn of 2014, Innventia will also be able to manufacture multi-filament lignin fibre on a small scale.

Road map Carbon fibre today Innventia
Spools with multi-filament lignin fibres from LignoBoost lignin. The results of a successful run using equipment that will be installed at Innventia during the summer of 2014.

Equipment for manufacturing continuous lignin-based carbon fibre is not yet available, but in 2015 Innventia plans to invest in a pilot facility for the production of continuous lignin-based carbon fibre with an annual capacity of 10-20 kg. This is a very challenging and important step towards achieving the goal of a larger scale production (demo/full scale). The main difference compared with the current situation is that it will then be possible to emulate industrial production of carbon fibre on a large scale.

Swerea SICOMP currently has the necessary expertise and equipment to analyse physical fibre properties linked to various applications. Standardised test methods are used when there is sufficient access to the material, but methods for characterising individual fibres and smaller quantities of fibres have also been developed. Swerea SICOMP also has the capacity to analyse and verify the process properties of fibres for different manufacturing methods and different matrix systems, and to design, dimension and develop manufacturing techniques for composites. These skills are essential for the development of brand new fibres such as a lignin-based carbon fibre. Swerea SICOMP is in the process of building a testing and demonstration facility, "Sustainable production of composites", which is being fitted out for the development and verification of bio-based composite materials. This is the next stage in the manufacturing process after lignin fibre manufacturing.

Innventia and Swerea SICOMP have a close strategic cooperation, and, together with representatives from industry, are planning a joint demonstration facility for the manufacture of lignin-based carbon fibre composites with an annual capacity of approximately 50 tonnes.

Logo Road-map 2014-2025


Per Tomani
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