Unique wood reinforced plastic going global
IO3: Wood fibre, pulp, biopolymer, packaging and biochemical industriesScion and licensing partner Sonae Indústria received a KiwiNet Award in June for their partnership to commercialise a wood reinforced plastic product that can be used in cars, appliances and a range of consumer products.
The annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards celebrate the achievements of individuals, teams and organisations actively commercialising publicly funded research.
Scion and Sonae Indústria won the MinterEllisonRuddWatts Research & Business Partnership Award for their long-term working relationship, which has successfully established a commercial value chain for wood fibre reinforced plastics. The key enabling technology is embedded in wood fibre dice, known as Woodforce, which is sold by Sonae Indústria to plastics processors.
Plastics with wood fibre are stronger and stiffer than plastics alone, but until recently, handling the bulky fibre has not been commercially feasible. Scion’s patented process forms wood fibre into ‘dice’ that can be made in existing MDF plants and easily added to a range of plastics. The non-seasonal and sustainable supply of wood fibre adds further advantage over other agricultural and glass fibres.
Scion has been working closely with Sonae Indústria for eight years in order to refine Woodforce to the point where it is starting to make inroads into the market. Scion granted Sonae Indústria an exclusive licence for the wood fibre dice technology in Europe in 2011, and North America in 2013. Sonae owns and has developed the Woodforce brand.
Both partners have been committed to optimising Woodforce and the compounding process. End products that are lighter weight, thermally stable and sustainable are now being trialed and approved by major automotive manufacturers. A wide exposure to companies along the full length of the Woodforce value chain has also led to relationships being developed with other manufacturing industries to develop new products.
Business Development Manager Jeremy Warnes sees the commercial potential for Woodforce as being in the $100s of millions in business generated on a global scale, depending on uptake in a competitive environment.
Scion developed and patented the technology with funding from New Zealand’s former Foundation of Research, Science and Technology (now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment).
Collaborators / Partners: Sonae Indústria and Sonae Arauco
Investment: MBIE, Scion Core