NeoLigno by Stora Enso

100% fossil-free structural boards and building elements with NeoLigno® by Stora Enso

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Together with RISE, IsoTimber and Moelven, Stora Enso has been working on the most recent development of NeoLigno – 100% fossil-free structural boards and building elements.
Stora Enso has launched NeoLigno®, a revolutionary lignin-based binder for particleboard and insulation applications. We are committed to doing good for people and the planet, which is why we always look to innovate new, renewable alternatives where fossil-based materials are being used today. In this case, we asked ourselves: What if we could come up with a bio-based binding agent that keeps all the technical qualities of traditional binders while also being safe and renewable? Our answer to this question is NeoLigno® by Stora Enso.

NeoLigno® by Stora Enso

NeoLigno® is a bio-based binder that is made from lignin, an organic polymer that comes from wood. It is primarily suited to particleboard and insulation applications. Using a bio-based binder makes the end product both safer to make and safer to use—all without having to compromise on technical performance.

We ensure that the wood sourced to produce NeoLigno® comes from sustainably managed, traceable forests with FSC® and PEFCTM chain-of-custody and ISO 14001 environmental management certifications.

Joint operations opening the doors of tomorrow

The most recent development with NeoLigno® has been in a project called 100 % fossil-free structural boards and building elements, a collaboration between Stora Enso, IsoTimber and Moelven. The project  is part of the strategic innovation program BioInnovation, which is in turn funded by Vinnova, the Swedish Energy Agency and Formas. It is coordinated by RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden) with the aim of developing 100% bio-based and circular components that can help the construction industry improve its sustainability performance.

The construction industry generates a significant collective carbon footprint. Both Moelven and IsoTimber are taking action to reduce their impacts on the environment by turning to a more sustainable alternative material source—wood. This natural material is central to every partner’s work, making the joint project a logical collaboration as they work together to drive the industry forward.

The construction industry’s emissions largely occur from fossil-based building materials such as concrete and steel. Wood-based alternative materials present an improvement in this sense. But the chemicals used to treat wood—such as the binding agents—are traditionally of fossil or crude oil origin. 

The aim of the project 100 % fossil-free structural boards and building elements is to develop fully bio-based and circular methods for the production of building blocks and building elements, in order to decrease the carbon footprint without having to compromise on the end product’s efficacy. Moelven is producing plywood panels while IsoTimber makes building blocks made partially of plywood. Stora Enso is supplying NeoLigno®, which acts as a bio-based binder for the plywood and the building blocks produced by Moelven and IsoTimber respectively.

Operational success validating NeoLigno®

The project is still ongoing, but the current status is that the construction plywood and building blocks have been successfully produced, using NeoLigno®, in an industrial scale. Next up is extensive testing of the properties of the two products. Lab testing has already established that NeoLigno® is able to match or exceed the performance of traditional binders used in plywood and building blocks. The operational success of the project provides validation on the commercial potential of products implementing NeoLigno® as the binder.

Magdalena Sterley, Expert in gluing of wood from RISE confirms that Stora Enso has developed a high-quality binder, promising for plywood applications: “Plywood manufactured in lab and pilot scale show promising properties and indicates that plywood produced with NeoLigno® can meet the requirement of construction plywood.” 

Tjalling Chaudron, Product Developer at Moelven, is extremely happy with the development: “We have intentionally set high standards for the binder, with the expectation of using a fossil-free alternative in the future. It has been a joy to discover how well the binder has performed at the prototype level and we’re anticipating the full-scale testing in the fall with high excitement. For us at Moelven, it is important to constantly make the most of the opportunities and strive to develop and make things better and more climate-friendly.”

Janina Östling, PhD, Chairman of the Board/Sustainability manager at IsoTimber, continues by stating: ”This project and collaboration has been of great value to us. It could help IsoTimber reach our goal of a 100% biobased IsoTimber panel many years before we had anticipated. It is a key issue for us to find a biobased binder. Our most common IsoTimber panel consists of 99% wood, and NeoLigno® might help us reach 100% fossil-free construction panels. Those load bearing and insulating panels are assembled to full size external wall elements in our factory with metal fasteners. So, the load bearing structure of an IsoTimber building would be 99.8% biobased if we were to implement NeoLigno® in our prefab. That would be fantastic!

In this co-operation with IsoTimber and Moelven, we have developed fossil-free building boards and elements, with commercial potential. We are very happy with the results so far, as Sara Fäldt, R&D Specialist at Stora Enso, states: “I am happy and proud to see that the project has fulfilled the high expectations we set in the beginning; that it is possible to produce construction plywood and construction panels with our bio-based binder NeoLigno.”

Using NeoLigno® as a binder is better for the planet, for you and your customers. We will support you in proving these benefits to your customers and help you introduce it to your application. Innovation that comes from the power of trees is what Stora Enso is all about. We help the world to transition towards more sustainable, more circular solutions that use renewable biomaterials in all kinds of industries and applications. Join us on the journey on building a more sustainable, healthier, and safer future!