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News Article | February 23, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Parents can now follow their tots' vaccinations via the Kasvuseula online service, which provides analytical data on the child's growth. Developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, this new service feature is based on reliable data - maintained by the Pharmaceutical Information Centre- on children's vaccinations. Kasvuseula.fi is a user-friendly, online service that provides parents with reliable, analysed data on the growth of their child and any abnormalities. A new vaccination data section has now been added to the service. The service provides parents with a handy way of recording their children's vaccinations and monitoring the progress of the recommended vaccination programme. Vaccination data is visualised by a clear diagram showing vaccinations under the national vaccination programme and an indicative vaccination schedule. In this way, Kasvuseula serves as a tool which supports and complements Finnish health care. "With this service, VTT wants to help parents to monitor the growth and development of their children. Users have warmly welcomed the growth data section; I think that providing vaccination data at the same address makes the service even more useful and user friendly," says Kari Kohtamäki, Key Account Manager, who adds that data on over 23,000 children has been added to the service. "Due to the online information overload on vaccines, we warmly welcomed VTT's proposal to engage in cooperation. Kasvuseula is a natural place from which to provide parents with easily understandable and reliable information on vaccines and vaccinations. From there, users can easily access the Rokotustieto.fi service for more details on the issue," says Topi Hanhela, Director, Customer Relations & Business Development of the Pharmaceutical Information Centre. VTT wants to lead the way towards the health care of the future by creating new, digital health services. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd is the leading research and technology company in the Nordic countries. We use our research and knowledge to provide expert services for our domestic and international customers and partners, and for both private and public sectors. We use 4,000,000 hours of brainpower a year to develop new technological solutions. VTT in social media: Twitter @VTTFinland, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Periscope.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed technology known as "CatLignin" to produce reactive lignin from pulp industry side streams to be used as a replacement for toxic phenol compounds in wood adhesives that are widely used in wood products and furniture. Traditionally phenol and formaldehyde containing adhesives are used in wood products such as plywood, laminated veneer lumber and laminates. There is a drive from society and wood product manufacturers to find bio-based and safe alternatives to these oil-based, toxic and expensive adhesive components. Another important driver is the Act on Public Procurement enacted at the beginning of the year 2017 that highlights these environmental considerations. VTT has developed CatLignin technology for producing reactive lignin from pulp industry side streams currently used for energy production. Due to its superior reactivity, CatLignin is an ideal replacement for phenol in phenol formaldehyde resins and could become a new, high-value product for pulp mills. In addition, the CO2footprint of lignin is only approximately 20% of the footprint of phenol. Resins have a significant impact on CO2footprint of engineered wood products. For example in plywood, around half of CO2footprint is caused by resin usage. Replacing phenol with lignin also reduces formaldehyde usage. To put this in context there are currently six million tons of phenol formaldehyde resins produced annually. "The suitability of lignin for a variety of applications has been investigated for decades, but only now we have found a way to use it as a phenol substitute in significant quantities in resins. VTT's CatLignin technology represents a technological leap, offering new business opportunities to many industrial players," says Senior Scientist Hanne Wikberg. This new material brings new business opportunities for the entire value chain, from lignin producers to adhesive and wood product manufacturers and end-users. In practice, this means pulp mills, adhesive, wood product and laminate manufacturers and their customers, such as kitchen cabinet and furniture brands. "This technology is ideal for actors who want be the forerunners in bringing 100% bio-based engineered wood products to the market. We are actively seeking partners for the next steps in technology upscaling", says Juha Leppävuori, Senior Scientist. The reactive lignin manufacturing technology can be integrated into pulp mills. Unlike existing technologies, the virtue of this process is the possibility to modify the lignin structure already at the pulp mill. Lignin structure can be tailored and therefore optimised specifically for each application. The CatLignin material has potential as a substitute for a wide range of fossil-based chemicals in adhesive, rubber and plastic applications. Its antioxidative properties are expected to improve weather resistance reducing the need for fossil-based and expensive additives used today. The CatLignin technology won the resource scarcity category in the New Tree 2017 competition in Finland on 1stFebruary 2017 jointly with another VTT technology LigniOx concrete plasticiser solution. The competition jury - which consisted of experts from environmental and forestry sector together with societal and economic experts as well as Members of the Parliament of Finland - were particularly impressed by the societal importance and economic potential of the technology. The Catlignin technology development is underway in a project funded by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, and VTT. This technology has already attracted a great deal of interest throughout the whole value chain and VTT is currently seeking partners for upscaling and commercialisation of the technology. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd is the leading research and technology company in the Nordic countries. We use our research and knowledge to provide expert services for our domestic and international customers and partners, and for both private and public sectors. We use 4,000,000 hours of brainpower a year to develop new technological solutions. VTT in social media: Twitter @VTTFinland, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Periscope.


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: globenewswire.com

HONKARAKENNE OYJ    FINANCIAL STATEMENT RELEASE  16 February 2017 at 9:00 a.m. Net sales for the last quarter of the year improved by 4 %. Net sales for the entire year decreased by 8 % on the previous year. The result before taxes for the last quarter was MEUR 0.4 (MEUR -0.3). The result before taxes for the entire year remained in the red, but, however, was MEUR 0.6 better than a year earlier. At the end of the year, the Group’s order book was 9 % higher than at the end of the previous year. The Board of Directors proposes to the Annual General Meeting that no dividend be paid for the financial year ended 31 December 2016. In Honkarakenne’s view, net sales in 2017 will be higher and the result before taxes will be better than in the previous year. At the end of December, the Group's order book stood at MEUR 16.3, up 9 % on the corresponding period of the previous year, when it stood at MEUR 15.0. The order book refers to orders whose delivery date falls within the next 24 months. Some orders may include terms and conditions relating to financing or building permits. The company and its financiers negotiated new financing resolutions for year 2017. Some of the new financing resolutions include covenants relating to EBITDA. Some of those loans already carried a 30 per cent equity ratio covenant term. If the company's sales do not develop well enough, it is possible that the terms of the covenants will be broken during the next year. Marko Saarelainen, President and CEO of Honkarakenne Oyj, in connection with the financial statement release: “In the last quarter, sales in Finland declined, but sales in Russia saw a year-on-year increase. In addition, the sales trend was positive in Global Markets in the last months of the year. On the whole, net sales in the fourth quarter grew compared with the previous year, and at the end of the review period the order book was also at a higher level than in 2015. In the last quarter, Honkarakenne continued to make outlays on renewal and training its dealer network: new dealers came on board and we organised product and marketing training for dealers in Europe and Russia. For both the Finnish and export markets, Honkarakenne unveiled healthy care and school concepts which take the special requirements of public construction into consideration. Healthy House development continued. At the end of 2016, VTT granted Honkarakenne the right to give a Healthy House certificate to a larger delivery package that also includes construction partly done by the customer. Compared to 2015, the full-year adjusted operating result was negatively impacted by decline in net sales while efficiency-boosting measures had a positive effect. The adjusted result before taxes was also positively impacted by lower financial expenses compared to the previous year.” Honkarakenne Group’s net sales for the year 2016 decreased by 8 per cent to MEUR 36.1 (MEUR 39.1). The Group’s last-quarter net sales in 2016 increased by 4 per cent to MEUR 10.3 (MEUR 9.9). Finland & Baltics includes the following countries: Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It includes also Process waste sales for recycling. Russia & CIS includes the following countries: Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and other CIS countries excluding Ukraine. Global Markets includes other countries than above-mentioned and CIS country Ukraine. The Group’s order book stood at MEUR 16.3 at the end of December. In the previous year at the same time period it was MEUR 15.0. The operating loss for the year 2016 was MEUR -0.8 (MEUR -1.1) and the result before taxes was MEUR -1.2 (MEUR -1,7). The adjusted operating profit for the year 2016 was MEUR -0.4 (MEUR -0.2) and the adjusted result before taxes was MEUR -0.8 (MEUR -0.9). The adjustment items were MEUR 0.4 and they included costs related to the efficiency-boosting programme kicked off in May and costs related to the Sistema Finance S.A.’s voluntary public tender offer (costs classified as adjustment items amounted to MEUR 0.8 in the previous year). Compared to 2015, the full-year adjusted operating result was negatively impacted by decline in net sales while efficiency-boosting measures had a positive effect. The adjusted result before taxes was also positively impacted by lower financial expenses compared to the previous year.” The financial position of the Group was satisfactory at the end of the report period. The equity ratio stood at 41 % (37 %) and net financial liabilities at MEUR 5.0 (MEUR 6.5). In December 2016 the company and its financiers negotiated new financing resolutions for year 2017. Some of the new financing resolutions include covenants relating to EBITDA. MEUR 2.5 of financial liabilities carries EBITDA covenant terms and MEUR 1.3 (MEUR 1.9) of them carried already before 30 per cent equity ratio covenant term. As part of Honkarakenne’s financial arrangements Honkarakenne’s main owner Saarelainen Oy granted in November Honkarakenne an unsecured junior loan amounting MEUR 0.3. The junior loan is subordinated to bank loans. Group liquid assets totalled MEUR 0.4 (MEUR 1.1). The Group also has a MEUR 5.4 (MEUR 7.8) bank overdraft facility, MEUR 1.2 of which had been drawn on at the end of the report period (MEUR 2.5). Gearing stood at 75 % (81 %). The Group’s capital expenditure on fixed assets totalled MEUR 0.1 (MEUR 0.1) in year 2016. In Finland & Baltics, the company made outlays on regional marketing, with more house exhibitions and events at sales offices, and regional sales campaigns were carried out. During the last quarter, the company renewed brand strategy. In the last quarter of the year sales in Finland declined, but detached house sales figures remained good. In Russia & CIS, the trend in sales was positive in the last months of the year. During the fourth quarter, the company organised product training for the staff of its Russian importer. Although sales in Russia improved towards the end of 2016, cumulative full-year net sales were down 15% on the previous year. It is expected that the Russian market situation will remain difficult. In Global Markets, the company continued to develop its dealer network and the reorganisation of its sales. For instance, the European functions will be reorganised. Performance in German-speaking Europe and in international projects fell significantly short of the previous year in terms of both sales and net sales. Research and development focused especially on solutions for healthy public construction and modern architecture. For both the Finnish and export markets, Honkarakenne unveiled healthy care and school concepts which take the special requirements of public construction into consideration. Healthy House development continued. At the end of 2016, VTT granted Honkarakenne the right to give a Healthy House certificate to a larger delivery package that also includes construction partly done by the customer. In the January–December period, the Group's R&D expenditure totalled MEUR 0.3 (MEUR 0.4), representing 0.8 % of net sales (0.9 %). The Group did not capitalise any development expenditure during the financial year. In terms of person years, the Group employed a total of 110 (115) people in average in 2016, representing a year-on-year decrease of 5. In 2016 the Group employed 136 (139) people on average. At the end of the year, the Group employed 132 (134) people. In May-June, the Group conducted negotiations under the act on co-operation within undertakings and as a result Honkarakenne can lay-off clerical and managerial employees temporarily maximum 90 days and blue-collar workers will work under reduced working hours. The lay-off plan is effective until 31 March 2017 for white-collars and until 31 May 2017 for blue-collar workers. In June Honkarakenne’s CFO Mikko Jaskari announced that he will transfer into another company’s employ. Mikko Jaskari’s employment relationship ended on 31 July 2016. Erja Heiskanen, Honkarakenne’s Vice President – Operations, left the company at the end of June due to the organisational reform carried out as part of the efficiency-boosting programme. Honka Management Oy, a company created in 2010 as an Executive Group bonus scheme is after the share acquisition carried out in December owned as whole by Honkarakenne Oyj. Honkarakenne Oyj’s earlier ownership of the shares in Honka Management Oy was 47 %. Based on the shareholder agreement, Honkarakenne Oyj already had control of Honka Management Oy before the share purchase, for which reason the latter was already included in the consolidated financial statements. Sistema Finance S.A. announced on 3 November 2016 that it will make a voluntary public tender offer in cash to purchase all of the issued Series A shares and Series B shares in Honkarakenne Oyj (Series B shares on Nasdaq Helsinki Ltd. HONBS). On 4 November 2016, Honkarakenne Oyj’s main shareholder Saarelainen Oy announced to the Board of Directors of Honkarakenne Oyj that it would not accept the proposed purchase offer. Sistema Finance S.A. started this voluntary public tender offer in cash on 11 November 2016. The offer period was scheduled to end at 16:00 on 16 December 2016. On 9 December 2016, Honkarakenne Oyj’s Board of Directors published a statement on the tender offer of Sistema Finance S.A. On 16 December 2016, Sistema Finance S.A. announced that it would extend the offer period of the voluntary public tender offer in cash for all shares in Honkarakenne Oyj (“Honka”) to 16:00 on 19 January 2017. In addition, Sistema Finance S.A. announced on that date that it had received clearance on 12 December 2016 from the antimonopoly authorities of the Russian Federation in respect of the transaction planned in the tender offer. Sistema Finance S.A. announced the preliminary results of the voluntary public tender offer in cash for all shares in Honkarakenne Oyj on 20 January 2017 and the final results on 24 January 2017. According to Sistema Finance S.A.’s announcement, 192,866 Series B shares were tendered in the offer, representing 3.7 per cent of Honka shares. Sistema Finance S.A. announced that it would not complete the tender offer in accordance with its terms and conditions, as it was contingent on the acquisition of at least 67 per cent or more of the Series A and Shares B shares in Honka. When calculating the adjusted operating result and the adjusted result before taxes costs related to the Sistema Finance S.A.’s voluntary public tender offer has been included in adjustment items due to their exceptional character. In the second quarter of 2013, the Board of Directors decided on a long-term share-based incentive plan for members of the Executive Group. The performance period of the new plan began on 1 January 2013 and will end on 31 December 2016. The potential reward for the performance period is based on the cumulative earnings per share (EPS) for 2013 - 2016 and on the average return on capital employed (ROCE) for 2013 - 2016. Any rewards for the performance period 2013 - 2016 will be paid partly as B shares and partly in cash in 2017. The rewards to be paid on the basis of the performance period will correspond to a total maximum of about 340,000 B shares, including the amount to be paid in cash. The performance period of the share-based incentive plan concluded at the end of 2016 and no rewards will be paid under the plan; the payouts had already been assessed as zero a year ago. On 31 May 2010, the Board of Directors of Honkarakenne Oyj decided on an Executive Group bonus scheme, with the aim of enabling significant long-term management shareholdings in the company. To this end Honka Management Oy acquired a total of 286,250 B shares in Honkarakenne Oyj in 2010-2011. In December 2016 Honka Management Oy’s shareholders agreed by consensus to dissolve the scheme, with Honkarakenne Oyj acquiring all Honka Management Oy’s shares by purchase from executives involved in the scheme at a unit price of €1. Honkarakenne Oyj’s earlier ownership of the shares in Honka Management Oy was 47 %. The Annual General Meeting of Honkarakenne Oyj was held at the company’s headquarters in Tuusula on 15 April 2016. The AGM approved the parent company's and the consolidated Financial Statements, and discharged the members of the Board of Directors and the CEO from liability for 2015. The AGM decided not to pay a dividend for the 2015 financial year. Kati Rauhaniemi, Anita Saarelainen, Jukka Saarelainen, Mauri Saarelainen and Arto Tiitinen were re-elected to the company's Board of Directors. Rainer Häggblom was elected as a new member. At the Board's constituent meeting, Arto Tiitinen was elected Chairman of the Board and Mauri Saarelainen was elected as Deputy Chairman. At the same meeting, the Board decided to establish a Nomination and Remuneration Committee. The following directors were elected as members of the committee: Arto Tiitinen (as Chairman of the Committee), Anita Saarelainen and Mauri Saarelainen. PricewaterhouseCoopers Oy, member of the Finnish Institute of Authorised Public Accountants, was re-appointed as auditor of the company, with Maria Grönroos, APA, as chief auditor. OWN SHARES AND AUTHORISATIONS OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS Honkarakenne has not acquired its own shares during the report period. At the end of the report period, the Group held 364,385 of its Honkarakenne B shares with a total purchase price of EUR 1,381,750.23. These shares represent 6.99 % of the company's all shares and 3.34 % of all votes. The purchase cost has been deducted from shareholders' equity in the consolidated financial statements. On 15 April 2016, the AGM decided that the Board of Directors will be authorised to acquire a maximum of 400,000 of the company’s own B shares with assets included in the company’s unrestricted equity. In addition, the AGM authorised the Board to decide on a rights issue or bonus issue and on granting special rights to shares referred to in Section 1 of Chapter 10 of the Limited Liability Companies Act in one or more instalments. By virtue of the authorisation, the Board may issue a maximum total of 1,500,000 new shares and/or relinquish old B shares held by the company, including those shares that can be issued by virtue of special rights. Both authorisations will remain in force until the next Annual General Meeting, however expiring at the latest on June 30, 2017. Honkarakenne Oyj follows the Limited Liability Companies Act and the Finnish Corporate Governance Code 2015 (effective from 1 Jan 2016) for listed companies issued by the Finnish Securities Market Association. The company’s website, www.honka.com, provides more information on the corporate governance systems. Russia is one of Honkarakenne’s major business territories. The sanctions connected to the Ukrainian crisis and strong exchange rate fluctuations currently cause instability in the Russian market. This might have major impacts on Honkarakenne’s operations. In December 2016 the company and its financiers negotiated new financing resolutions for year 2017. Some of the new financing resolutions include covenants relating to EBITDA. MEUR 2.5 of financial liabilities carries EBITDA covenant terms and MEUR 1.3 (MEUR 1.9) of them carried already before 30 per cent equity ratio covenant term. If the company's sales do not develop well enough, it is possible that the terms of the covenants will be broken during the next year. The assessment of amounts in the balance sheet is based on current assessment by the management. If these assessments are changed, this may result in changes to the Group's result. In the financial statements, the deferred tax assets in the balance sheet include an item of MEUR 1.5 related to unused tax losses, of which MEUR 0.5 will expire in 2019 and MEUR 0.7 in 2021-2025. In Honkarakenne’s opinion, these deferred tax assets recognised in the balance sheet can be utilised by using the company’s estimated taxable income, which is based on Honkarakenne’s business plans, including the current efficiency-boosting programme. If earnings do not develop as expected in the long term, it is possible that the tax assets might not be utilised in time and must be impaired. The company did not recognise new deferred tax assets in the balance sheet in 2016. This report contains statements that relate to the future, and these statements are based on hypotheses that the company's management hold currently as well as on the decisions and plans that are currently in place. Although the management believes that the hypotheses relating to the future are well-founded, there is no guarantee that the said hypotheses will prove to be correct. This financial statement release has been drafted in accordance with IAS 34. The principles adhered to in preparing the annual financial statements 2015 also apply to this financial statement release but new and amended IFRS standards and interpretations effective in 2016 have been applied. Amended standards and interpretations effective from the beginning of year 2016 have no bearing on the figures presented for the report period. As from half year financial report, Honkarakenne complies with the Guidelines on Alternative Performance Measures (APM) issued by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA).  An APM is a financial measure of performance other than a financial measure defined or specified in IFRS. For this reason, the term “adjusted” is used instead of previous term “without non-recurring items”. As adjustment items, the company classifies significant business transactions that are considered to affect comparisons between different reporting periods. Such transactions include significant reorganisation expenses, impairment losses or reversals thereof, and capital gains and losses on assets or other significant income or costs of unusual business operations. When calculating the adjusted operating result and the adjusted result before taxes costs related to the Sistema Finance S.A.’s voluntary public tender offer has been included in adjustment items due to their exceptional character. The figures have not been examined by the auditor. Sistema Finance S.A. announced the preliminary results of the voluntary public tender offer in cash for all shares in Honkarakenne Oyj on 20 January 2017 and the final results on 24 January 2017. According to Sistema Finance S.A.’s announcement, 192,866 Series B shares were tendered in the offer, representing 3.7 per cent of Honka shares. Sistema Finance S.A. announced that it would not complete the tender offer in accordance with its terms and conditions, as it was contingent on the acquisition of at least 67 per cent or more of the Series A and Shares B shares in Honka. PROPOSAL OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS ON THE USE OF PROFIT FUNDS The parent company has no distributable funds and no funds can be allocated as profits. The parent company posted a MEUR -0.1 loss for the financial year. The Board of Directors proposes to the Annual General Meeting that no dividend be paid for the financial year ended 31 December 2016. In Honkarakenne’s view, net sales in 2017 will be higher and the result before taxes will be better than in the previous year. Honkarakenne Oyj’s Annual General Meeting will be held on Friday, 7 April 2017 from 14:00 onwards in Järvenpää. This and previous releases are available for viewing on the company’s website at www.honka.com. During week 11, Honkarakenne will publish the Board of Directors’ Report and the Financial Statements for 2016, as well as a separate Corporate Governance Statement on the company’s website at www.honka.com. The half year financial report for 2017 will be published on 10 August 2017. Honkarakenne Oyj has two series of shares: A shares and B shares, which have different right to dividend. Profit distribution of 0.20 EUR per share will be paid first for B shares, then 0.20 EUR per share for A shares, followed by equal distribution of remaining profit distribution between all shares. This financial statement release has been drafted in accordance with IAS 34. The principles adhered to in preparing the annual financial statements 2015 also apply to this financial statement release but new and amended IFRS standards and interpretations effective in 2016 have been applied. Amended standards and interpretations effective from the beginning of year 2016 have no bearing on the figures presented for the report period. As from half year financial report, Honkarakenne complies with the Guidelines on Alternative Performance Measures (APM) issued by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA).  An APM is a financial measure of performance other than a financial measure defined or specified in IFRS. For this reason, the term “adjusted” is used instead of previous term “without non-recurring items”. As adjustment items, the company classifies significant business transactions that are considered to affect comparisons between different reporting periods. Such transactions include significant reorganisation expenses, impairment losses or reversals thereof, and capital gains and losses on assets or other significant income or costs of unusual business operations. The figures have not been examined by the auditor. Honkarakenne has three geographical operating segments that have been combined into one segment for reporting purposes. Geographically, sales are divided as follows: Finland & Baltics, Russia & CIS and Global Markets. The internal reporting of the management is in line with IFRS reporting. For this reason, separate reconciliations are not presented. The result for the financial year 2016 includes MEUR 0.4 costs related to the efficiency-boosting programme kicked off in May and costs related to the Sistema Finance S.A.’s voluntary public tender offer (costs classified as adjustment items amounted to MEUR 0.8 in the previous year). Honkarakenne has not acquired its own shares during the report period. At the end of the report period, the Group held 364,385 of its Honkarakenne B shares with a total purchase price of EUR 1,381,750.23. These shares represent 6.99 % of the company's all shares and 3.34 % of all votes. The purchase cost has been deducted from shareholders' equity in the consolidated financial statements. The Group’s related parties consist of subsidiaries and associated companies; the company's management and any companies in which they exert influence; and those involved in the Saarelainen shareholder agreement and any companies controlled by them. The management personnel considered to be related parties comprise the Board of Directors, President & CEO, and the company's Executive Group. The pricing of goods and services in transactions with related parties conforms to market-based pricing. During the report period, ordinary business transactions with related parties were made as follows: sales of goods and services to related parties amounted to EUR 258 thousand and trade receivables from related party amounting EUR 69 thousand and purchases from related parties amounted to EUR 410 thousand and trade payables to related party amounting EUR 61 thousand. As part of Honkarakenne’s financial arrangements Honkarakenne’s main owner Saarelainen Oy has granted Honkarakenne an unsecured junior loan amounting MEUR 0.3. The junior loan is subordinated to bank loans. In 2010 and 2011, Honkarakenne Oyj granted long-term loans totalling MEUR 0.9 to Honka Management Oy, which was earlier owned by the company’s senior management. An impairment was recognised in 2014 and in 2015 for this loan in the parent company, the total amount of these impairments is MEUR 0.4.


In collaboration with the international CITYOPT project, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed an energy planning tool for experts and an application for consumers. The tools have been piloted in Helsinki, Nice and Vienna, with promising results. Local energy costs were reduced by 15% and carbon dioxide emissions by 30% using the optimal planning feature of the tool for experts. Using the game-like tablet application, almost 80% of the households involved managed to reduce their electricity consumption during peak times. The CITYOPT Planning Tool, which was developed to meet the needs of energy experts and investors, enables optimisation of the energy planning of large-scale urban and regional systems. The tool provides alternative plans with cost and functional evaluations, enabling the minimisation of energy costs and CO2 emissions, for example. It also provides holistic solutions instead of partial optimisation. Over the long-term, the benefits of urban planning are also passed on to the tax payer. The tool has been piloted in Helsinki and Vienna. Optimal planning at the case locations achieved reductions of around 15% in energy costs and 30% in CO2 emissions. The planning tool also markedly reduces the time required for planning. The aim of the CITYOPT Operational Tool for consumers is to reduce the household load during peak-time power consumption and prevent problems with electricity production in advance. The tablet application was piloted in 140 households in Nice during the project. Consumer trials showed that cuts in power consumption can be achieved when end users are sufficiently motivated. Almost 80% of households reduced their electricity consumption when the need to do so arose. The application provides information on household electricity consumption and how it can be reduced. It increases consumers' awareness of energy efficiency and their opportunities to influence their own consumption. The consumer can choose whether to participate in cutting his or her own electricity consumption and how, i.e., which load to shift temporally. For example, during peak loads consumers can lower the lighting power or change their laundry time. Participation is rewarded by allocating points for reducing and moving loads. The consumer can give his or her points to a local charity, with the power company paying the charity accordingly. This creates a direct, small energy saving for the consumer and financial benefits for charitable activities in the community, while electricity producers benefit from a more economical production method when avoiding peak production capacity. Consumers can save around EUR 5 per year, which is fairly small. However, this was anticipated since the aim was to shift power loads during peak-time consumption rather than actually lowering electricity bills. The need to shift consumption was brief, occurring between 6 pm and 8 pm on days during which peak electricity consumption was being reached. More information: For more information, see www.cityopt.eu/


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: phys.org

Internationalisation, urbanisation and ageing are transforming the consumers and the living environment. In the future food must be produced for demanding consumers with clearly smaller environmental burden. Our future food will be based on more efficient use of raw materials; foods are more plant based and made from novel kind of ingredients. Digital technologies and services will be in a key position in Food Economy 4.0. Consumer-centric business activities will take into account individual needs and values. Smart online retail combined with agile distribution, new service models using emerging technologies, and customized food production close to the consumer are examples of the transition under way. Big Data combined with smart interaction between processes, actors and consumers via IoT is increasing convenience and transparency. Together with food industry representatives, VTT's multi-disciplinary team of experts has created three change paths for the transitioning food production and distribution, and presented new business opportunities based on these paths. The Food Economy 4.0 roadmap published by VTT in February 2017 describes new ways of thinking about the production, delivery and purchase of food. In addition to safe and tasty, consumers want healthy and easily available food. Ethical values and local production are also important. Digital services and production technologies will increase the possibilities of consumers to make product and service choices in line with their own needs and values. Combining personal and product data will enable matchmaking of one´s dietary needs with food offering. Smart packaging and automated monitoring of the quality and quantity of food will ease the lives of consumers both within and outside households.From traditional food supply chain to agile production and distribution Personalised food production will also change production processes. Food supply is becoming a more networked and consumer-driven business environment. This transition is driven by digitalisation, new production, distribution technologies, and service-based business models. Online platforms offer a cooperation channel and marketplace for producers capable of scaling their deliveries for end consumers or the food industry. New web-based solutions are creating market models in which small producers can connect to bigger consumer groups. The development of distribution and logistics systems plays a key role in agile food production. In the new food economy food is more often prepared for the consumer directly, at the point of purchase. Grocery stores could have elements of production units. The current development of service robotics and 3D printing is improving the ability of vending machines to prepare personalised portions. In addition, ensuring food production while using natural resources sustainably is a global challenge. Centralised production, long transport distances and storage cause a great deal of waste at different stages of the current food supply chain. Agile production and distribution with smart quality control can also tackle this challenge. More efficient use of natural resources and food raw materials as well as novel solutions to produce food ingredients are in a key role of future food economy. Biotechnology and insect farming are valid examples of future production technologies. Transition from horizontal to vertical food production is accelerating. VTT's Food Economy 4.0 roadmap describes three change paths, which form an integrated ecosystem. Information flows in the ecosystem affect the consumer's purchasing decisions while, through his or her purchasing decisions, the consumer can create an ecosystem in which raw materials are produced sustainably and used efficiently, with a view to the further processing of raw material flows. Many examples show that we already are moving along change paths. The first to move and those who best serve the customer will be the winners in the new digital environment. In addition to cross-border technologies, out-of-box thinking and rapid prototyping pave the way ahead. Explore further: New categorisation of food scares will help efficient development of strategies to prevent food chain being compromised


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: phys.org

Up to half of oil-based polypropylene can be replaced with paper industry side streams. Plastec Finland Oy and Wiitta Oy made a trial batch of floor tiles and storage containers, of which side-streams accounted for 30%. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland examined, as part of the EU's Reffibre project, whether new industrial applications could be developed for various types of sludge and fly ash generated by the paper and board industry. Laboratory tests showed that these side streams can replace up to 50 percent of oil-based polypropylene. They can be used as a raw material in plastic composites made using injection moulding and extrusion. Large quantities of various side streams are created during the manufacture of paper and cardboard. Part of these can be used instead of natural aggregates as a raw material in concrete or asphalt, or in construction. Large amounts of side streams still end up in landfills and incineration. Side streams could be used to lower composite manufacturing costs, reduce the environmental impacts of production, and lower the total amount of waste.. This would also reduce the production of oil-based plastics. Laboratory tests showed that 50 percent of the raw-materials in injection-moulded composite could come from paper and board industry side streams. The amount of side streams has an effect on the product's properties: strength, stiffness, heat resistance, appearance and the texture of the surface. During the project, Plastec Finland Oy and Wiitta Oy produced floor tiles and storage containers, of which side-streams accounted for 30 percent. New applications are continually being sought - in the future, they may include pallets and crates, for example. The possible legal restrictions still have to be explored prior to the product-specific use of side-streams in composites. Explore further: Liquid by-products from wood and forest industry find use in wood-plastic composites


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: www.gizmag.com

"Fly ash" is pretty much what it sounds like: fine airborne particles of ash. It's generated in large quantities during the manufacture of paper and cardboard, along with a lot of sludge. Although a certain amount of that waste can be used as aggregate in concrete, most of it just ends up being dumped in landfills. That could be about to change, however, as Finnish scientists have discovered that it can also be used as a raw material in plastic goods. As part of the European Union's Reffibre project, researchers at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland performed lab tests which indicated that the ash and sludge could replace up to 50 percent of polypropylene in injection-molded or extruded plastic composites. Not only would this keep the paper waste products out of the landfill, but it could also bring down the production costs of the plastic items, plus it would reduce the amount of petroleum-based polypropylene required. Additionally, by tweaking the ratio of ash/sludge to polypropylene, it's possible to tweak plastic characteristics such as strength, stiffness, heat resistance, appearance and surface texture. So far, the VTT team has created plastic floor tiles and storage containers which are composed of 30 percent paper waste. Down the road, the process may also be used for items like crates and pallets.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: phys.org

Traditionally, phenol and formaldehyde adhesives are used in wood products such as plywood, laminated veneer lumber and laminates. There is now a drive to find bio-based and safe alternatives to these oil-based, toxic and expensive adhesive components. VTT has developed CatLignin technology for producing reactive lignin from pulp industry byproducts currently used for energy production. Due to its superior reactivity, CatLignin is an ideal replacement for phenol in phenol formaldehyde resins and could become a new, high-value product for pulp mills. In addition, the CO2 footprint of lignin is only approximately 20 percent of the footprint of phenol. Resins have a significant impact on the CO2 footprint of engineered wood products. For example in plywood, around half of the CO2 footprint is caused by resin usage. Replacing phenol with lignin also reduces formaldehyde usage. To put this in context, there are currently 6 million tons of phenol formaldehyde resins produced annually. "The suitability of lignin for a variety of applications has been investigated for decades, but only now have we found a way to use it as a phenol substitute in significant quantities in resins. VTT's CatLignin technology represents a technological leap, offering new business opportunities to many industrial players," says Senior Scientist Hanne Wikberg. This material brings new business opportunities for the entire value chain, from lignin producers to adhesive and wood product manufacturers and end-users, including pulp mills, wood product and laminate manufacturers and their customers and adhesive manufacturers. "This technology is ideal for actors who want be the forerunners in bringing 100 percent bio-based engineered wood products to the market. We are actively seeking partners for the next steps in technology upscaling," says Juha Leppävuori, Senior Scientist. The reactive lignin manufacturing technology can be integrated into pulp mills. Unlike existing technologies, the virtue of this process is the possibility to modify the lignin structure that already exists at the pulp mill. The lignin structure can be tailored and therefore optimised specifically for each application. The CatLignin material has potential as a substitute for a wide range of fossil-based chemicals in adhesive, rubber and plastic applications. Its antioxidative properties are expected to improve weather resistance, reducing the need for fossil-based and expensive additives used today.


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

In collaboration with the international CITYOPT project, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed an energy planning tool for experts and an application for consumers. The tools have been piloted in Helsinki, Nice and Vienna, with promising results. Local energy costs were reduced by 15% and carbon dioxide emissions by 30% using the optimal planning feature of the tool for experts. Using the game-like tablet application, almost 80% of the households involved managed to reduce their electricity consumption during peak times. The CITYOPT Planning Tool, which was developed to meet the needs of energy experts and investors, enables optimisation of the energy planning of large-scale urban and regional systems. The tool provides alternative plans with cost and functional evaluations, enabling the minimisation of energy costs and CO2 emissions, for example. It also provides holistic solutions instead of partial optimisation. Over the long-term, the benefits of urban planning are also passed on to the tax payer. The tool has been piloted in Helsinki and Vienna. Optimal planning at the case locations achieved reductions of around 15% in energy costs and 30% in CO2 emissions. The planning tool also markedly reduces the time required for planning. The aim of the CITYOPT Operational Tool for consumers is to reduce the household load during peak-time power consumption and prevent problems with electricity production in advance. The tablet application was piloted in 140 households in Nice during the project. Consumer trials showed that cuts in power consumption can be achieved when end users are sufficiently motivated. Almost 80% of households reduced their electricity consumption when the need to do so arose. The application provides information on household electricity consumption and how it can be reduced. It increases consumers' awareness of energy efficiency and their opportunities to influence their own consumption. The consumer can choose whether to participate in cutting his or her own electricity consumption and how, i.e., which load to shift temporally. For example, during peak loads consumers can lower the lighting power or change their laundry time. Participation is rewarded by allocating points for reducing and moving loads. The consumer can give his or her points to a local charity, with the power company paying the charity accordingly. This creates a direct, small energy saving for the consumer and financial benefits for charitable activities in the community, while electricity producers benefit from a more economical production method when avoiding peak production capacity. Consumers can save around EUR 5 per year, which is fairly small. However, this was anticipated since the aim was to shift power loads during peak-time consumption rather than actually lowering electricity bills. The need to shift consumption was brief, occurring between 6 pm and 8 pm on days during which peak electricity consumption was being reached. CITYOPT project was coordinated by VTT, the project began in February 2014 and ended in January 2017. Its budget was EUR 3.9 million and EU FP7 was the funding agency. VTT, AIT from Austria, CSTB and EDF from France, Experientia from Italy, Helen Oy and the cities of Helsinki and Nice participated in the project. http://www. The CITYOPT planning tool for energy experts and investors: https:/ VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd is the leading research and technology company in the Nordic countries. We use our research and knowledge to provide expert services for our domestic and international customers and partners, and for both private and public sectors. We use 4,000,000 hours of brainpower a year to develop new technological solutions. VTT in social media: Twitter @VTTFinland, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Periscope.


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

PRESS RELEASE: New use for paper industry's sludge and fly ash in plastics VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland examined, as part of the EU's Reffibre project, whether new industrial applications could be developed for various types of sludge and fly ash generated by the paper and board industry. Laboratory tests showed that these side streams can replace up to 50% of oil-based polypropylene. They can be used as a raw material in plastic composites made using injection moulding and extrusion. Large quantities of various side streams are created during the manufacture of paper and cardboard. Part of these can be used instead of natural aggregates as a raw material in concrete or asphalt, or in construction. Large amounts of side streams still end up in landfills and incineration. Side streams could be used to lower composite manufacturing costs, reduce the environmental impacts of production, and lower the total amount of waste. This would also reduce the production of oil-based plastics. Laboratory tests showed that 50% of the raw-materials in injection-moulded composite could come from paper and board industry side streams. The amount of side streams has an effect on the product's properties: strength, stiffness, heat resistance, appearance and the texture of the surface. During the project, Plastec Finland Oy and Wiitta Oy produced floor tiles and storage containers, of which side-streams accounted for 30%. New applications are continually being sought - in the future, they may include pallets and crates, for example. The possible legal restrictions still have to be explored prior to the product-specific use of side-streams in composites. VTT coordinated the Reffibre project (No. 604187), which formed part of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme, during 2013-2016. In addition to VTT, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Papiertechnische Stiftung, Instituto Tecnológico del Embalaje, Transporte y Logstica, Bumaga BV, Confederation des Industries Papetieres Europeennes CEPI Aisbl, Vrancart S.A. Adjud, Alucha SL, Papierfabrik Utzenstorf AG and Holmen AB participated in the project. The side streams used for the study were obtained from European companies. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd is the leading research and technology company in the Nordic countries. We use our research and knowledge to provide expert services for our domestic and international customers and partners, and for both private and public sectors. We use 4,000,000 hours of brainpower a year to develop new technological solutions. VTT in social media: Twitter @VTTFinland, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Periscope.

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