EXPECT US IN THE UNEXPECTED
The sky is NOT the limit when it comes to the potential products made from wood fibre. However, there are many surprising possibilities ― some that are now being produced, and some that are in the development stage.
THE COSMETICS INDUSTRY
The iridescent properties of wood fibre at the nano-level have vast potential in products such as lipstick and nail polish. Wood cellulose can also make cosmetic creams smoother and more luxurious. Sugars derived from wood can be used in a host of cosmetic products.
Wood fibre has the potential to play a major role in the largest manufacturing revolution this century ― providing substrate for 3D printers from lignin, an affordable and renewable by-product of pulp mills.
THE ENERGY INDUSTRY
Many forest companies have become energy self-sufficient, thus removing the need for fossil fuels, by using pulping by-products and residues such as bark, shavings and sawdust to produce greener electricity. Many mills are selling their excess energy to the grid. The Canadian sector now produces enough green energy to power all the houses in Calgary’s metropolitan area.
THE GREEN CHEMICALS INDUSTRY
Bio-methanol produced as a by-product at traditional pulp mills can be used in windshield wiper fluid, plastics, glues and fabrics or be blended with gasoline to fuel cars. This is just one example of the almost endless opportunities for bio-based chemicals from wood.
GREENING OTHER INDUSTRIES
Wood-based chemicals can be developed to help the oil and mining sectors remediate tailing ponds and landfills. For example, cellulose nanocrystals can be added to drilling fluids to minimize loss in geological pores. This could represent a large-scale commercial potential.
Cellulose products can be used as a substitute for glass fibres in reinforced plastics, for example for eye glass frames. Research is continuing on making carbon fibre from lignin that could be used in high-end sporting equipment such as bicycles, golf clubs and tennis racquets. Sugar streams generated from wood can be used in a range of bio-plastics for example medical applications such as bone implants.
THE FOREST PRODUCTS ASSOCIATION OF CANADA (FPAC) AND ITS MEMBER COMPANIES HAVE LAUNCHED VISION2020 FOR THE INDUSTRY.
It has three ambitious goals to reach by the end of the decade:
- Generate an additional $20 billion in economic activity through new products and markets;
- Improve environmental credentials by an additional 35%; and
- Refresh the workforce with an additional 60,000