Resolute Forest Products Inc. has inaugurated its new commercial-scale plant for the production of cellulose filaments at its Kénogami paper mill in Saguenay, Quebec. The new plant is expected to produce up to 21 metric tons of cellulose filaments per day and to create about thirty new jobs, in addition to the approximately 200 existing jobs at the Kénogami paper mill.
Cellulose filaments, also known as nanofibrillated cellulose, are a novel biomaterial derived from wood fiber, which can be used as a natural additive in many products to improve technical performance, including plastic composites. Announced in 2020, the construction of the $27 million facility was part of a $38 million investment project in the company's Kénogami mill.
Remi G. Lalonde, Resolute's president and chief executive officer, led the inauguration ceremony, also attended by Andrée Laforest, Quebec Minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister Responsible for the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, as well as by local officials, dignitaries and Resolute employees.
Cellulose filaments are a significant step into new markets for Resolute. They are mechanically processed without chemicals or enzymes and are manufactured entirely from renewable sources, resulting in a low carbon footprint. Among other things, the company has seen promising test results for use in concrete, where the additive could improve performance in infrastructure projects, and in packaging applications, where it can be used to make 100% biosourced and fully recyclable translucent film, displacing traditional plastic film.
Mr. Lalonde said: "I thank our partners for their expertise in research and development as well as their financial support, including the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests through its Wood Innovation Program, Investissement Québec and Natural Resources Canada. The cellulose filament plant is the result of our common goal to innovate and explore potential avenues to open new markets for Quebec forest products, and to contribute to the sustainable development of the communities in which we operate."
"The construction and start-up of the new plant that produces cellulose filaments, a completely new product, at the Kénogami paper mill opens up bright prospects for the future," said Minister Andrée Laforest. "The $27 million investment, including $2.5 million from the Quebec government, has created an additional vocation for the mill and the opportunity to export this product internationally. The new biomaterial is a breath of fresh air for the Kénogami mill and its employees. Congratulations to the leadership, the workers and everyone who made this achievement possible."
Quebec Minister of Natural Resources and Forests Maïté Blanchette Vézina shared the following message from Quebec City: "This new production of cellulose filaments will significantly benefit not only Resolute Forest Products, but also the region and the forest products industry. Through its Wood Innovation Program, our government is proud to back businesses that establish themselves with such innovative projects, and to support communities where the forest sector is a driving economic force. I commend Resolute's entire team for contributing, through innovation, to the diversification of Quebec's wood products and for helping decarbonize our economy."
FPInnovations, an organization that specializes in the creation of solutions that accelerate the growth of the Canadian forest products sector, led the partnership that developed the extraction technology to produce cellulose filaments. Performance BioFilaments Inc., a joint venture established by Resolute and Mercer International Inc., is working to commercialize traditional applications for the product.