At Mid Sweden University there are several research projects on fibre and energy. Despite the dismal outlook expressed by some in the printing paper industry, we see great potential for the future in the production and process know-how of the forest industry. Coating could be a way to develop new paper products, such as solar cells and interactive wallpapers.
The aim of the COAT project is to strengthen the establishment of the region and Mid Sweden University as a national centre for forest industry research. This goal can be reached, in part, by developing knowledge in functional coating of paper. The research programme has two specific goals: to study a new process technique and its possible application.
Process technique – We carry out initial studies on coating on paper by a new way of coating a number of very thin layers in a single step in the process (multi-layer coating using foaming surfactants). The goal is to gain knowledge that can provide a foundation for development of large-scale industrial application.
Application – The process technique will be used to develop functional papers, large surfaces that demonstrate the new technique. The goal is to show possible paper-based products with a higher added-value than traditional bulk products.
The three demonstrations selected by the project are:
- paper-based solar cells,
- paper changing pattern and colour, and
- new functional and sensory surfaces on paper.
The next step
The COAT project should be considered the beginning of a larger unified research effort in the field of functional papers and large-surface substrate. The most promising tests of COAT will be developed further within the frames of a long-term follow-up research project under the working title “KM2”. It stands for square kilometres and refers to an efficient production of very large functional surfaces.
We introduce the term KM2, which is an abbreviation of square kilometres, to represent processes that can be scaled up for industrial production. Included in KM2 is also the green demand for renewable materials and eco-friendly processes. A processes meeting these demands is what we call KM2 compatible. What we mean is an eco-friendly process where materials which give paper a new function, at high speed, is coated on the coating path – size m/s.