The demo plant in Äänekoski, Finland, owned and operated by MI Demo has now reached the stage where the first batch of product, i.e. wood-based textile fiber, has been produced. In late 2018, Metsä Group’s innovation company Metsä Spring and Japanese ITOCHU Corporation decided to establish a joint venture, MI Demo, and within the context of the JV, construct and start operating the demo plant converting Metsä Group’s paper-grade pulp into textile fiber using a novel production process. The topping out of the new demo plant building was celebrated in March 2019 and in July 2019 the building was ready for equipment installation work to begin.
The actual production start-up and subsequent test run phase, a phase performed with several representatives from the main equipment suppliers present at the plant, was finally initiated in late February 2020 but had to be suspended mainly due to the global coronavirus pandemic in March. The specific preparations related to re-starting the test run were accelerated in July and the actual test run could be commenced in Mid-August with our key partners again present in Äänekoski. As a result of successful collaboration and test run activities, the extended MI Demo team has now been able to produce the first batch of textile fiber.
“Reaching this stage of the investment project is a significant milestone within the overall demonstration project. I am very proud of our team and all the partners involved for their dedication and professionalism. This is collaboration and co-creation at its best”, says Niklas von Weymarn, CEO of Metsä Spring and Chair of the Board of MI Demo.
The test runs will be completed in the upcoming weeks. When this has been achieved, the actual work to demonstrate the feasibility of the new concept begins. In the best-case scenario, a clearly larger textile fiber factory would be built in Finland in the future.