Greenhouse utilising pulp mill residual streams wins Finnish Forest Industries Federation’s Innovation Contest for Students
This innovation developed by Aalto University students may revolutionise Finnish food production by means of the circular economy.
Aalto University students Mikko Niemeläinen and Milla-Mari Vastavuo have won the Finnish Forest Industries Federation’s Wood U Make It Happen Innovation Contest. The duo’s project named Relaps is an ecosystem that utilises a pulp mill’s waste heat and mineral flows in smart greenhouse cultivation.
“Our innovation is based strongly on the circular economy approach: we want to find a practical use for material flows that previously went to waste. In addition, Relaps offers a model for how food production can respond to population growth and the pressures caused by climate change”, Niemeläinen and Vastavuo explain.
The students believe that Finland has a very high level of expertise in greenhouse technology and forest industry, and collaboration between the two can in the future create unprecedented opportunities for food production.
“We sought advice from experts from different fields and combined these. A circular economy-based approach is not a new concept in the forest industry but combining it with greenhouse cultivation this comprehensively is. You just have to dare to try out and play around with possibly wild ideas without prejudice”, the two students assure.
According to Timo Jaatinen, Director General of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, the winning entry has good development opportunities and scaling potential.
“An ecosystem like Relaps approaches food production and energy consumption in a completely new way. It boldly takes on the challenges created by global megatrends, such as environmental problems and population growth”, Jaatinen describes.
Innovation Contest looks to the future
The innovation contest’s three finalists received their awards on 4 December at the Finnish Forest Industries Federation’s centennial celebration where one of the themes is renewal and looking to the future.
“Currently, the entire forest industry is looking for answers to how we can create the most sustainable options for consumers. The innovation contest’s participants have demonstrated through their own solutions that the future of the forest industry is being built now”, says Timo Jaatinen.
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