September 25, 2020
On Tuesday, 4 June 2019, the official opening of a modernized centre for the characterization and functionalization of fibre materials took place in Ljubljana at the Pulp and Paper Institute. The Minister of Education, Science and Sport, Dr Jernej Pikalo, and the Director-General at the Science Directorate, Dr Tomaž Boh, attended the event, which was organized for the conclusion of the investment in specialized research infrastructure for the comprehensive study of renewable fibre materials.
The Pulp and Paper Institute (PPI) opened a modern and upgraded center for the characterization and functionalization of fibre materials. This represents a special research infrastructure of the InnoRenew project for the comprehensive study of renewable fibre materials, which is unique in Slovenia and elsewhere.
mag. Mateja Mešl, director of the private not-for-profit PPI, said: “The infrastructure, which includes laboratory equipment and also equipment for semi-industrial testing, allows a comprehensive approach – from basic research to prototypes and production of final products with marker values.”
The total investment is 1.250.000 €, from which 750.000 € was obtained from the InnoRenew project grant, while the rest was provided by PPI’s own resources.
The new research equipment is complementary to PPI’s existing equipment in three components: equipment for fractionalization (separation) of biomass, characterization (evaluation) and functionalization (processing) of fibre materials. The renovated center will enable research throughout the process of obtaining useful compounds from wood sources and other biomass resources (cellulose fibre, green chemicals) and the development of bio-based renewable materials and final products.
PPI’s director added: “With modern research infrastructure, we will contribute to Slovenia’s competitive integration into R&D in the perspective field of circular bio-economy and in the emerging markets for sustainable solutions.”
Director-General at the Science Directorate, Dr Tomaž Boh, congratulated everyone involved in the InnoRenew project on this first tangible result, which is very important not only for this project but also in the wider social area: “The InnoRenew project represents a unique example of cooperation between the economy, various universities and institutes. This project is not focused on one partner, but it is a distributed project that combines all the critical mass in Slovenia – from Maribor, to Ljubljana and Koper. It is something that connects and not separates us, and we at the ministry are very happy for this.”
Dr Andreja Kutnar, project leader and director of the InnoRenew CoE research institute, emphasized the successful cooperation of consortium partners, led by the University of Primorska: “With the work on the project we are developing innovations that are important for the industry, we are providing support for companies in the implementation of R&D innovations, and we closely cooperate with the policy makers. Today, with the opening of the new center at PPI, we can also witness how the InnoRenew project contributes to the development of Slovenia and beyond. The project will be completed in less than three years, but the consortium as such will continue to operate.”
Minister of Education, Science and Sport, Dr Jernej Pikalo, also attended the ceremony and confirmed that investments in science in the field of sustainable development are important: “This is one of the major investments that this institute experienced, and we are very proud of it.” He also pointed out that environmental and sustainability issues are crucial topics in all policies; therefore, investments as such are very welcome since they contribute their part to the story of sustainability as a way of life.
Before mag. Mateja Mešl, Dr Andreja Kutnar and Dr Jernej Pikalo did the ceremonial ribbon cutting and visited the modernized laboratories, he concluded: “By connecting research capacities, sharing knowledge between industry, institutes and universities and with the help of equipment, we can achieve synergistic effects, and this is the purpose of such investments – the more we invest in general knowledge, the better we will be as society. Today’s event is an important stone in the mosaic of further development of Slovenia. ”
PPI is the first of the InnoRenew consortium partners to have successfully completed its investment. In the future, other consortium partners of the project will present their new infrastructure. Next will be this autumn at the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia.