Collaboration with Lappeenranta University

Dialogue for greater wisdom

​Collaboration with educational and research institutions is helping Metsä Fibre to gain a broader understanding of natural phenomena and future technologies, and to reach leading professionals in the field. We met up at Lappeenranta University of Technology to discuss the goals and benefits of partnership.


Lappeenranta University of Technology LUT, is a science university focusing on technology and economics, with about 5,000 students and more than 500 teaching and research staff. The chemical engineering programme at the LUT Faculty of Engineering trains specialists designing new and cleaner production methods that improve the adequacy of energy, water and natural resources and the condition of the environment.


Associate professor Mari Kallioinen directs the Department of Separation and Purification Technology. Separation technology focuses on ways of separating various raw materials, and is also an integral part of the pulp manufacturing process, and such challenges as further reducing the amount of water that it requires. Kallioinen reports that the LUT team is an international leader in understanding phenomena related to water purification or recovery of components from various solutions:


“We have spent decades researching separation technology, and our instruments enable practical studies of phenomena in equipment that clearly exceeds the laboratory scale. Some phenomena, for instance fouling of the separation matrices, cannot really be seen in the way that it happens in real life at the mill site, if the volume of the examined solution is too small.”


Her own research background is in membrane technology and filtration, which are similarly applied for purifying forest industry process water, and she also leads the interdisciplinary LUT Re-source research platform seeking to enhance resource efficiency.


A strong focus on separation technology and on the associated range of methods makes LUT a unique institute of higher education in Finland in the field of chemical engineering. The university has also gained prominence as an active seeker of solutions for clean energy and water, circular economy, and sustainable business.

Collaboration with Lappeenranta University




Associate Professor Eeva Jernström serves as Vice-Dean of the LENS School of Engineering Science, with particular teaching and research interests in biorefining. She explains that industrial collaboration lies at the core of all activities at LUT:


“We share the same goal with businesses, even though our approaches differ. We are not content to stay at the level of academic research, but prefer to see research findings carried forward into practical applications.”


Appointed VP Research at Metsä Fibre with effect from this summer, Anna Suurnäkki explains that while the company is keen to be involved in high-quality research that aims for new innovations, it is equally important for educational institutions to train the professionals of the future. It is also essential for Finland to retain the finest expertise in the field.


“We expect our research partners to have an in-depth understanding of relevant process  phenomena, coupled with a vision of future technologies and their closeness to deployment. We make extensive use of outside research resources in our R&D work, engaging in ongoing dialogue with researchers accordingly. Networking and long-term partnerships with research teams are very important to us,” Suurnäkki stresses.


Kallioinen adds that even though the university also seeks innovations and solutions, its results are still measured in academic degrees and publications:


“Our consistent ability to deliver highly valued and verified scientific results also testifies to our quality as a partner for industry.”

Collaboration with Lappenranta University




Research collaboration typically arises in the context of broader co-financed programmes involving several partners. Metsä Fibre and LUT were most recently involved in a project that ended last spring, seeking to separate heavy metals from the green liquor dregs that form as a by-product of pulp manufacturing. The fibre suspension sludge created in processing could be used as agricultural fertiliser and as a soil improver. Although the project tested a separation method, this currently remains too expensive for commercial deployment.


Metsä Fibre’s Development Manager R&D Raili Koponen stresses that finding sustainable solutions for the utilisation of side streams in  a pulp mill is one of the focus areas in development. The company’s bioproduct mill in Äänekoski was designed to use production side streams for manufacturing products of optimal added value, i.e. its own process chemicals. The industrial ecosystem developing around the mill continues to promote the commercialisation of new side streams into bioproducts.


“The most fruitful research projects for collaboration are those where the entire value chain is represented. As a pulp manufacturer, we nevertheless produce a raw material for the next operator to use. For example, we are currently engaged in a research project that involves us together with representatives of a paper manufacturer, a refiner and their customer. Such arrangements greatly accelerate progress,” Koponen says.

Collaboration with Lappeenranta University




One commonly discussed aspect of the highly progressive new setup at Äänekoski is its optimised use of water. About 12 tonnes of waste-water currently reaches the biological treatment plant for each tonne of pulp manufactured. Kallioinen explains that many opportunities for reducing water use and recovering components still remain available at various stages of production:



“For example, we could use separation technologies to reduce the chemical oxygen demand of plant effluent, and recyclable metals could also be recovered at some point in the water cycle. The debarking unit effluent is also of interest for phenolic compounds that could become the basis of a new product if they could be cost-effectively recovered and processed.”


The economic sustainability of a new concept is a particularly critical consideration in process industry, which requires a clear understanding of the added value generated by any investment. Kallioinen notes that reducing wastewater quantities by more efficient internal water recycling and purification would not significantly increase operating costs at the mill. Water treatment processes could also be targeted more specifically:


“There is no absolute need to direct all types of process effluent into the same treatment system. Other industries and local authorities are already considering the use of targeted treatment plants for their wastewater. For example, certain compounds such as the drugs typically found in hospital effluent could be more cost-effectively removed in a targeted treatment plant.”

Collaboration with Lappeenranta University to develop sustainable solutions




In the context of future university-trained employees, Jernström concludes by pointing out that educational institutions must always dialogue with the business community to determine desirable skills for young graduates entering industry. This also helps in syllabus development. Suurnäkki at least stresses the willingness to learn through practical working experience, as production processes are only fully understood by the people using them on site.


“Working in project teams and the status of each individual as part of a team, for example, are included as aspects of training in all of our educational programmes. Most young people are quite willing to put on overalls and engage in real mill work,” Jernström explains.


Everyone agrees that the specialists of the future will not only need to be innovative, but also capable of adapting and working in a team. The forest industry must also continue to stand by its sustainable values, as young people these days are increasingly aware when considering their career options.

Related articles

  • Pulp sheets

    10/2019/ Metsä Fibre

    Customer feedback received – There is always room for improvement

    ​Metsä Fibre’s customers consider Metsä Fibre as a reliable supplier with even pulp quality.

    Read More
  • Forest and sky

    9/2019/ Pulp

    Plastic became a problem – is wood the solution?

    ​Plastic was once considered an irreplaceable material. Now plastic has become a problem to which we are frantically trying to find a solution. There is therefore plenty of demand for a biodegradable, bio-based and sustainably produced material.

    Read More
  • pulp fibre

    9/2019/ Metsä Fibre

    The pre-engineering of the Kemi bioproduct mill is progressing

    ​Metsä Fibre kicked off the pre-engineering project for the Kemi bioproduct mill in the spring of 2019. The project is now proceeding in terms of the environmental permit process, among other things.

    Read More
  • 9/2019/ Metsä Fibre

    Finnish forest management made an impression

    ​Metsä Fibre provides its customers with a service that lets them get to know a Finnish commercial forest up close. A Metsä Day visit is not only entertaining, but also educational, as it affords a glimpse into responsible forest management. 

    Read More
  • A sustainable circular economy needs efficient utilisation of side streams

    5/2019/ Metsä Fibre

    A sustainable circular economy needs efficient utilisation of side streams

    ​A comprehensive circular economy is incomplete without the bioeconomy. The bioeconomy can contribute in several ways to the circular economy, and this includes the utilisation of organic side and waste streams from forestry and the converting of these production side streams into value-adding products. Metsä Fibre has world-leading capabilities in this field.

    Read More
  • Our products sequester carbon throughout their life-cycles

    4/2019/ Sawn timber

    Our products sequester carbon throughout their life-cycles

    ​The high-quality and sustainable sawn timber we produce is used to a particularly high degree in end uses where the carbon remains sequestered in the wood for a period spanning decades or even a century.  Such end uses include various wood construction solutions and furniture.

    Read More
  • Finnish sawn timber is a sustainable choice

    4/2019/ Sawn timber

    Finnish sawn timber is a sustainable choice

    ​Thanks to sound forest management, Finland’s forests are growing by roughly 20 per cent more than they are being used. This is why Finnish sawn timber is a sustainable and resource-smart solution.

    Read More
  • We utilize the properties of northern wood

    4/2019/ Sawn timber

    We utilize the properties of northern wood

    ​Metsä Fibre possess solid and long-standing know-how in the conversion of northern softwood. We know our raw material and the opportunities it offers inside out. 

    Read More
  • Premium sawn timber from northern wood

    4/2019/ Sawn timber

    Premium sawn timber from northern wood

    ​Northern sawn softwood offers extremely advantageous strength qualities in relation to weight, due to which it is well-suited for use in load-bearing structures.  In terms of its appearance, northern wood is consistent, and it is easy to process and treat in the preferred manner. 

    Read More
  • Polar King project proceeds as planned

    3/2019/ Metsä Fibre

    Polar King project proceeds as planned

    ​If all preconditions are met, a new bioproduct mill will start up in Kemi during the year 2022. So far, the results of the prefeasibility study look promising. This was the encouraging message of a public event organised on December 18 in Kemi, where Metsä Fibre gave an update on the progress of the project to an audience of around 200.

    Read More
  • Metsä Fibre awarded with supplier excellence award in China

    3/2019/ Metsä Fibre

    C&S presents Metsä Fibre with supplier excellence award in China

    ​Metsä Fibre has received a Supplier Excellence Award from C&S, one of China’s major tissue producers, for being the company’s Partner in Excellence.

    Read More
  • 3/2019/ Pulp

    Innovative products from cellulose fibre

    ​Established in 2011, Chemarts is a Finnish collaboration between two Aalto University schools, the School of Chemical Engineering (CHEM) and the School of Arts, Design and Architecture (ARTS). At its heart, Chemarts is the study of bio-based materials and its main aim is to inspire young students from design and technical schools to get interested in wood-based fibres and to explore biomaterials together. Chemarts was also conceived to consider how design can be a strategic tool when developing new cellulose-based products or new materials.

    Read More
  • Partnership between Asia Symbol and Metsä Fibre is deepening

    3/2019/ Pulp

    Combining forces for a sustainable edge

    ​As demand for high-quality paper products in China and Asia increases, the partnership between Metsä Fibre and Asia Symbol is set to deepen.

    Read More
  • Metsä Spring together with Itochu are shaping the new textile fibre future

    3/2019/ Pulp

    Shaping the new textile fibre future

    ​Metsä Group’s innovation company, Metsä Spring, and the Japanese Itochu Corporation, have established a joint venture to build and operate a unique test plant. The hope is that this pilot will kick-start a new revolution in future ecological textile fibre production.

    Read More
  • Fresh fibre is helping to tackle the recycling challenge in China

    3/2019/ Metsä Fibre

    Fresh fibre to tackle recycling challenge

    ​Since mid-2017, China’s government has moved to ban a wide range of imported waste, from scrap metals to scrap paper, upending a recycling industry that had thrived since the mid-80s, transforming the world’s rubbish into usable materials when raw materials have been cost-prohibitive.

    Read More
  • Metsä FIbre participates in the Shanghai Pulp Week 2019

    3/2019/ Pulp

    Metsä Fibre participates in the Shanghai Pulp Week 2019

    Come and visit us on 20 March at Shanghai Pulp Week Annual Meeting or on 21 March at Hawkins Wright Shanghai Symposium.

    Read More
  • Antti Kiljunen and Risto E.J. Penttilä discuss business success factors under various scenarios.

    3/2019/ Metsä Fibre

    Possible worlds

    ​In an uncertain world, it can be helpful to prepare for various emerging outcomes. We asked Antti Kiljunen from Metsä Fibre and Risto E.J. Penttilä from the Nordic West Office consultancy firm to discuss business success factors under various scenarios.

    Read More
  • Metsa Fibre and Ahlstrom-Munksjo have unique safety collaboration in auditing

    2/2019/ Metsä Fibre

    Metsa Fibre and Ahlstrom-Munksjo have unique safety collaboration in auditing

    This is a unique form of collaboration among the Pulp and Paper industry with the target of promoting the safety work within the industry.

    Read More
  • The demand for quality paper products grows in China

    2/2019/ Pulp

    Paper-centric lifestyle

    ​As living standards in China rise, the demand for quality paper products grows.

    Read More
  • Sustainable pulp excellence, Asia, Harri Vertanen

    2/2019/ Metsä Fibre

    Sustainable excellence

    ​The year 2019 has started at full speed here in Shanghai, and I hope it will prove to be an excellent year for both us and our valued customers. As our CEO, Ismo Nousiainen, stated in the previous issue of Echo Magazine, we are focusing on excellence in our strategy.

    Read More
  • Metsä Fibre's logistics for pulp

    3/2019/ Metsä Fibre

    Reliable deliveries

    ​Metsä Fibre is the world’s leading supplier of bleached softwood market pulp, with an annual production capacity of around 3.25 million tonnes. Efficient and reliable logistics are a crucial part of the company’s pulp production chain. Some 62 per cent of the pulp produced by Metsä Fibre is exported.

    Read More
  • 1/2019/ Metsä Fibre

    For the forest

    The forests of Finland are satisfying a growing need for responsibly produced, renewable materials used in a wide variety of products. The Pro Nemus (“For the Forest”) visitor centre adjoining Metsä Fibre’s new bioproduct mill in Äänekoski provides an overview of the broad range of opportunities that the forest provides, with exhibits illustrating the bioproduct mill ecosystem, the products of the forest industry and the process of delivering them to customers around the world.

    Read More
  • 1/2019/ Pulp

    Metsä Spring and Itochu invest in test plant for wood-based textile fibres

    ​Metsä Group’s innovation company Metsä Spring Ltd. and Japanese Itochu Corporation have established a joint venture, investing approx. EUR 40 million in building and operating a test plant to demonstrate a new technology for converting paper-grade pulp into textile fibres.

    Read More
  • 1/2019/ Pulp

    Charting the customer experience

    Metsä Fibre’s annual RADAR customer satisfaction survey for its pulp and biochemical customers has been completed for 2018.

    Read More