“Our innovation is available to anyone who wants to save the planet from single-use plastics. Time is short. To make a difference, licensing is the only way to extremely quickly scale a new technology”, says Linus Larsson, inventor of "dry molded fiber" and CEO of PulPac AB in Göteborg.
On March 18, 2016, Linus and his father, Ove Larsson filed a patent application for a method to dry mold cellulose. Until then, cellulose, i.e. fibers from trees, have been commercially molded using a wet method, which was already invented in 1903. The egg carton is perhaps the most common example. It is shaped with this wet process that can be likened to industrial papier-mache.
Wet forming is a slow, costly and energy-intensive method that unfortunately has not been able to compete with plastics. The time and energy to drive out water and dry the fibers simply burden the packaging with too many costs. “Mankind has been able to mold plastics in seconds ever since the 1950s. And unfortunately, at least so far, has always chosen the cheapest alternative,” says Linus.
Linus and Ove worked as innovation consultants for the packaging industry. "We ran several large plastic projects for Swedish industry until one day we realized that this cannot continue any longer," says Linus, explaining that he asked himself the only real question: “Could you, just as quickly as molding plastics, mold trays, bottles, caps, hangers, bowls, spoons and boxes of fibers from the forest?” One of the world's most recycled and degradable materials.
The breakthrough came on a spring day in 2015, when Linus and Ove placed cellulose from an ordinary baby diaper in a sheet metal press. Using a little heat, they managed to 3D-shape the diaper into a rock hard product in seconds. Dry molding of pure forest fibers was invented! In addition, the inventors instantly understood that Dry Molded Fiber would be even cheaper than plastics. “We immediately realized that this was an important discovery and decided to apply for patents and start PulPac AB”, says Linus.
The patent is currently granted and is now the cousin of more than ten other patent families, in more than 30 countries. PulPac AB employs 15 research- and development engineers who have a single task – making Dry Molded Fiber available to all the world's packaging manufacturers. “We offer PulPac on license without a start-up fee but request part of the profit to finance our continued development. It will require capital to disrupt the plastics industry and turn the development in a sustainable direction” says Linus.
PulPac currently has a handful of licensees and partners. The first PulPac product, hangers for the fashion industry, has recently begun to be produced by Ekoligens AB in a brand new factory outside of Gothenburg.
PulPac expects to publish several exciting global projects during the coming year. “I estimate that we will have hundreds of industrial PulPac production lines that annually produce billions of plastic-free and completely degradable products within a few years”, Linus Larsson concludes.