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VTT

1.2013

A MAGAZINE ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND BUSINESS

At the root of productivity VERSATILE HEMICELLULOSE SHOWS GREAT PROMISE P. 18

LOW CARBON SOCIETY IN THE PIPELINE P. 44

SAFE AT SEA WITH AZIPOD P. 63

SCIENCE

VTT turns science into profitable business. This section of VTT Impulse shows how multidisciplinary research leads to innovations (pp. 18–36)


EDITORIAL

Timo Nurminiemi Senior Vice President, Finance VTT

Is technology worth investing in? In challenging economic times such as these, eyes increasingly turn to technology business. Important targets are set for VTT with respect to enhancing the competitiveness of “Finland Ltd”. But how do we go about promoting growth and employment? Innovation is the key, and innovation requires sufficient financial resources. Without them, research quality suffers and volumes soon wane. True to its mission, VTT needs to act as a foreseer and an innovator. VTT’s choices and actions should focus on sectors that best support the Finnish economy and society. VTT must also promote the technological know-how and competitiveness of Finnish companies. At the same time, we must operate on an international scale. It is very important to make sure that we make sufficient investments in our future. VTT is also a responsible operator when it comes to the current need for cutting costs in the public sector. We have not escaped cuts, and more are likely in the future. However, cost-savings in R&D operations should be well planned so that they can be achieved without harming overall R&D productivity. The total return on cuts is, after all, measured at the level of the national economy. The input-output ratio is also very important in R&D. What kind of returns can we expect from investments? VTT’s focus on printed electronics is a good example of investing in our future. The investment decision was made years ago, and represented a leap into the unknown with no guarantees of the technology or activities ever amounting to much. Fast-forward to now, and

the technology, or a completely new industry, is to enjoy growing demand. Application development is buzzing with action – so much so that it seems the sky is the limit. As many as 20,000 new jobs may be on the books. VTT and Finland are at the very leading edge of this new technology. At the end of the day, business decisions are made by companies. By acting now, they can take control of the markets for this new technology. It definitely pays to invest in technology business, even when times are tough. Research emphasis should be chosen wisely and in cooperation with companies. A small country like Finland should make investments in a coordinated manner to avoid doing the same thing twice. While basic techniques and technologies are becoming more affordable, innovations require increasingly complex configurations. Finland’s current research infrastructure is ageing, requiring replacements and investments at an increasing pace just to keep research going. Who is prepared to step in and, along with VTT, share the responsibility for the maintenance and development of the research infrastructure that will support the future development of Finland? Unfortunately, public funding bodies are increasingly reluctant to fund infrastructure, focusing instead on research. In comparison to ours, investment levels in the global arena are astronomical. How can we perform wide-ranging experimental studies without proper tools? Test pilot facilities in Finland urgently require investment. VTT will continue to ensure that R&D operations will be effective and provide value added. With cost-effectiveness in mind, of course.


VTT Impulse now

2 Meet and greet:

Wolfgang Büchele

6 In short 9 Column 10 Productivity from pervasive ICT How to boost to Finnish productivity anew?

Technology can help – but not alone. p. 10

SCIENCE

18 New hemicellulose-based materials from wood Wood mass is a source of hemicellulose, a suitable raw material for various applications. Senior Scientist, Ph.D. Harri Setälä, VTT

24 The unity of human and machine Virtual and augmented reality helps to leverage the strongest human abilities for creating better human-machine systems. Senior Scientist, D. Tech. Boris Krassi, VTT Research Scientist, B.Sc. Sauli Kiviranta, VTT

30 Success story: FIMECC FIMECC promotes Finnish expertise in the metals, mechanical engineering and shipbuilding industries. Chief Research Scientist, D.Tech. Olli Ventä

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T EC H N O LO GY

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38 Revolutionary biomaterials Environmentally friendly bioplastic is starting to replace plastic.

44 Low carbon Finland is not an easy target Establishing a low carbon society will take a great deal of work.

48 Multidisciplinary solutions for the grand challenges VTT’s four spearhead programmes all address the great future challenges.

54 Towards growth in a stalling economy The European economy is struggling, but growth is possible through competence development and specialisation.

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Our future success lies in specialisation.


BUSINESS

60 Microsensors for many applications Optical microsensors are gaining ground in the pharmaceutical, food and automotive industries.

63 Smooth sailing at sea and in port VTT and ABB Marine have worked together to tackle the problem of ships shaking and rattling when turning in port.

68 Greener mining Normet has improved the appeal and safety of working deep underground.

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72 Intelligent transport corridors Improving the flow of traffic with an array of solutions and services.

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VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is the biggest multitechnological applied research organisation in Northern Europe. VTT provides high-end technol­ ogy solutions and innovation services. From its w ­ ide knowledge base, VTT combines different technol­ogies, creates new innovations and a substantial range of world class technologies and applied research services thus improving its clients’ competitiveness and competence. Through its international scientific and technology network, VTT can ensure the efficient transfer and utilisation of information and technology.

VTT’s key technology fields Applied materials Biochemical and chemical processes Energy Information and communication technologies Industrial systems management Microtechnologies and electronics Services and the built environment Business research and innovation research

VTT Impulse is VTT’s publication on science, technology and business. Published twice a year in Finnish and in English. Publisher: VTT, Tekniikantie 4 A, Espoo, Finland, P.O. Box 1000, FI-02044 VTT. Telephone +358 20 722 111. Editor-in-chief: Olli Ernvall, tel. +358 20 722 6747. Editorial Board: Erkki KM Leppävuori, Jouko Suokas, Anne-Christine Ritschkoff, Kari Larjava, Petri Kalliokoski and Paula Bergqvist. Produc­tion: Cocomms Ltd. Layout: MCI Press Oy. Printing house: Edita, Helsinki 2013. Subscriptions and changes in address: paula.bergqvist@vtt.fi. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the views of VTT. ISSN 1798-0178

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MEET AND GREET | WOLFGANG BÜCHELE

A WATER INTENSIVE WORLD Text Joanna Sinclair Photos Vesa Tyni, iStockphoto

W

ater is the new oil.” The popular claim is not true. Water falls from the sky, and unlike oil, water is inherently reusable. An oilfree future may prove to be a dystopia, but the world will not come to an end without oil. Water is another story. Kemira’s CEO Wolfgang Büchele is avidly honest when it comes to the water business. Many changes are on-going and companies need to up the ante if they wish to stay in the game. “There is a clear difference between the old world and the new world in the water business. It is of utmost importance that we learn to understand business drivers that differ from what we already know. Only then can we manage our R&D competitively and successfully in order to achieve new growth.” “In Europe the cost of energy is high, in Asia, space is horrendously expensive. Consequently, the design and approach to the water 2

business is completely different in Asia, simply because the business drivers are so unlike our own. For example, European type waste­water treatment facilities cannot solve the problems in Asia as nobody can afford the required space,” Büchele points out. Büchele is polite in his wordings, but his meaning is quite clear. Many Western companies, Kemira included, have reached a stage where change is the only option. “Companies in the west are too conservative and constantly looking for possible risks. It is neither wise nor sensible. Risks are a part of life. Each morning when you leave the house you face risks. You might be hit by a brick!” Büchele quips, but his expression soon turns stern. “Seriously speaking, an attitude check is absolutely necessary.” “Please do not get me wrong. We should not copy the Asian way. Copying is always the worst alternative. But we definitely need to change and create a new way of working in the West,” Büchele affirms. Büchele brings up water innovations around the globe that showcase how the industry is VTT IMPULSE


Wolfgang Büchele Wolfgang­Büchele­, who holds a PhD in chemistry, had a long career at BASF. Born in Germany, Büchele took the helm of Kemira after acting as Chairman of the and CEO of the Hungarian company BorsodChem from 2009 to 2011. Büchele served as a member of Kemira’s Board of Directors from 2009 to 2012.

“In the water business there is a clear difference between the old world and the new world,” argues Wolfgang Büchele.

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How to make money with water?

changing through R&D. One of the most inspiring examples he shares is NEWater, an innovation produced by Singapore’s Public Utilities Board. “NEWater is treated wastewater – sewage – which has been purified with several processes, including microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet technologies. Its main target is industrial use, but it is claimed to be potable and consumed by humans as well,” Büchele explains, and draws attention to the fact that in the twenty-tens, R&D can only be successful when fuelled by genuine enthusiasm. “For great results, you need to give R&D clear and aspirational targets combined with enough freedom to achieve them. At Kemira, the excitement of our people and the understanding of the need to find compelling new products and solutions in an ever more competitive and demanding world are the main factors driving our growth. It is our job to make sure they have a company that facilitates this kind of innovation in the best possible ways.” The next steps

A question on most people’s lips in the water industry is: what’s next? Where is the water business going? All over the globe, corporations are awakening to the fact that clean water is a major competitive factor. Water security is becoming a new buzzword and water management a strategic issue, with high priority on the table of many corporate boards. You would be hard-pressed to find a company in 2013 that is not concerned about their water footprint. “It is obvious that water is a major theme going forward all around the globe. Yet there are a lot of question marks, mainly on how to earn money. As in all businesses, someone has to pick up the bill. Good research costs money and relevant innovations cannot be developed without investments,” Büchele states. “For Kemira, our different areas of expertise require quite different business approaches in order to generate growth. The pulp and paper industry is mainly business driven. The oil 4

and mining industry – in which we are currently a niche player but have great aspirations – is also largely business driven. The business of making clean water available for consumers on the large scale, however, always depends on politics. When governments make funds available, business is possible.” Sharpened claws

Today, Büchele is hard at work leading Kemira into a new era. Kemira’s strategy has been sharpened recently. “Water is a broad topic and we need to define more clearly where we want to play. Kemira is a company focusing on water quality and quantity management. We are currently sharpening the Kemira strategy which will be presented during spring once it has been approved by Kemira’s Board of Directors.” Another topic Büchele points out is Kemira’s new way of operating. “We are turning Kemira into a truly global company. Now, we are an international company with a strong Helsinki focus. We need to shift into a new gear and get into a global mind-set.” Although global business is Büchele’s aspiration, he draws a clear line to doing business in areas where transparency is an issue: “We have strong business ethics at Kemira. It would be very challenging for us to do business in certain geographies. This is where we draw the line; Kemira will not sacrifice its business ethics. In the end this approach will pay off, we are certain of it. A transparent business on a global level is the only sustainable way to go forward,” Büchele emphasises. R&D is key

Büchele sees R&D as a critical enabler for Kemira’s organic growth and further differentiation. Kemira intends to invest into both, its own R&D and into collaboration projects with leading external experts. For Büchele it is important to have both, short-term ventures as well as strategic projects with long term orientation in the R&D portfolio. VTT IMPULSE


“I always try to look not only to today or tomorrow but also to the day after tomorrow. That is where we need to set our sights. Through initiatives such as the water research center SWEET established together with VTT, we have learned to grasp the opportunities of true global cooperation, finding the best knowledge available and tapping into resources all around the globe. We hunt for knowledge sweet spots and strive to create collaborations that benefit both parties.” As far as Kemira’s plans for future collaboration go, Büchele has an ardent wish and a message to the research community: “Collaboration is still very much industry led these days. I would like to encourage a culture where organisations like VTT or Tekes come directly to us and tell us if they have a great idea that we could join in as an industry partner. This kind of development would make me extremely happy,” Büchele envisions. 

Wolfgang Büchele sees strategic research as a critical enabler for organic growth and further differentiation from competition.

A wave of changes MANY MAJOR TRENDS are currently reshaping the water business. All over the world, the water industry is consolidating. The largest players in the field have grown into giants, with considerable investment power. At the same time, Western companies are striving to catch up with the innovation pace of the East and learn to understand Asian business drivers. Other major trends include increasing regulation, a need to renew infrastructures in many areas around the world – and a very welcome trend of both communities and businesses focusing on water conservation, efficiency, recycling and reuse.

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IN SHORT

ELECTRONICS

The Planck satellite’s map of cosmic microwave background radiation.

A sensitive radio collects information about dark matter in the universe FURTHER INFORMATION: JUSSI TUOVINEN, JUSSI.TUOVINEN@VTT.FI PHOTO: ESA

The world’s most sensitive and accurate radio receiver has been orbiting the sun since May 2009 on board the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite on the L2 orbit, 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. Manufactured in Finland, the radio measures cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation. The radio will carry out its last measurements this spring, providing more accurate information on the age

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and geometry of the universe, and on the amount of invisible dark matter and dark energy. More precise measurements will help scientists pinpoint the age of the universe. Great sensitivity and accuracy is required to measure the first and oldest signal in the universe: CMB originates from the Big Bang and has travelled in space for almost 14 billion years.

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BIOTECHNOLOGY

M AT E R I A L S

Powerful enzymes for handling harvest waste FURTHER INFORMATION: KRISTIINA KRUUS, KRISTIINA.KRUUS@VTT.FI,

European scientists have developed powerful enzymes, which accelerate plant biomass conversion into sugars and further into products such as bioethanol. The project’s results include lignin-tolerant enzymes and enzyme cocktails for processing spruce, straw, corn cob and wheat bran. The EU-project coordinated by VTT developed powerful enzymes and enzyme cocktails suitable for various raw materials, with the purpose of converting agricultural side streams into fermentable sugars and further into products such as bioethanol. Plant biomass was chosen as the raw material for the project, since it contains lignocellulosic biomass, which is an abundant raw material. The Dutch company Dyadic is currently commercialising the enzymes developed in the project.

Biodegradable diapers from recycled cardboard FURTHER INFORMATION: ALI HARLIN, ALI.HARLIN@VTT.FI

Now for the first time recycled paper and cardboard can be used as raw material for nonwovens for diapers or sanitary towels and cleaning cloths. The manufacturing costs of cardboard-based nonwovens with the method developed by VTT are around 20 per cent lower compared to using wood raw materials. At the moment the principle raw material in nonwovens manufacture is non-degradable polyester or polypropylene. Up to now, market entry for bio-based nonwovens derived from wood has stalled because of prohibitive production costs.

ENERGY

Cellulose-based ethanol production in Brazil FURTHER INFORMATION: NILSON BOETA, NILSON.BOETA@VTTBRASIL.COM

VTT exports its expertise as a developer of biomass processing technology to Brazil. Odebrecht, one of the southern hemisphere’s largest enterprises, is making preparations for second generation ethanol production and plans to construct a demonstration plant. VTT acts as Odebrecht’s research partner, tasked with developing the technology used in the company’s processes. The development project is aimed at combining cellulose-based second generation ethanol production with first generation ethanol production and integrating these with electricity production. VTT IMPULSE

AUGMENTED REALIT Y

Time travel to the 18th century FURTHER INFORMATION: SEPPO VALLI, SEPPO.VALLI@VTT.FI

A tourist lifts up his mobile phone and views the banks of the River Aura through it. The camera in the device records the view, but in addition to new buildings, the tourist can see the famous Pennisilta bridge as it was in the 18th century. As the devices and software develop, virtual characters can be added to the view in the role of guides or to act out historical events. The aim is to offer tourists first-hand experiences of Turku’s past and allow them to see what life was like centuries ago. The Pennisilta bridge is a good example of how the University of Turku and VTT are developing augmented reality based solutions and business models for tourism under the Futuristic History research project. The proj­ ect studies the suitability of different business models for different locations and commercial business, including the global market. Tekes is the main funder of the project. Other project participants include companies and public organisations from different sectors. 7


IN SHORT

M AT E R I A L S

TRAFFIC

Flexible electronics of graphene FURTHER INFORMATION: VLADIMIR ERMOLOV, VLADIMIR.ERMOLOV@VTT.FI

Graphene, a layer of carbon only one atom thick, is one of the hottest topics in material science. Graphene project coordinated by Chalmers University of Technology has been chosen as EU’s first FET Flagship project. VTT’s focus in the project is related to graphene processing development, device development and characterization and implementation of demonstrators. Development work is also done on graphene-based flexible energy solutions, flexible components for energy storage and energy harvesting, flexible antennas and transparent conductors and also system-level platform for flexible electronics. VTT’s partners in the work package are Nokia, STM, LETI, CNR, Graphenea, Varta, University of Cambridge and University of Lille.

MEDICINE

Continuous processing boosts medicine manufacturing FURTHER INFORMATION: MIKKO JUUTI, MIKKO.JUUTI@VTT.FI

PROMIS Centre, a research centre focused on the development of methods for analysis and optimisation of pharmaceutical processes, has built a new and unique continuous processing pharmaceutical production line in Kuopio – the only one of its kind in Europe. The production line has been created for R&D purposes, but it also caters for the needs of the pharmaceutical industry. Continuous processing in pharmaceutical manufacturing is a way of making the manufacturing process simpler and faster while reducing the need to perform intermediate and final product analyses. This is possible with the help of modern systems which measure the quality of the sub-processes even in real time. PROMIS Centre is a multidisciplinary research consortium involving the University of Eastern Finland, VTT and Savonia University of Applied Sciences. 8

Safe on black ice FURTHER INFORMATION: KIMMO ERKKILÄ, KIMMO.ERKKILA@VTT.FI

An automatic slipperiness detection system for cars developed by VTT helps drivers to avoid personal injuries and damage to vehicles in slippery road conditions. Thanks to the system, drivers of the vehicles are warned in advance of a road’s slipperiness by means of warning lights, voice signals, text or symbols. Slipperiness detection is based on a method, whereby changes in road conditions are detected in real time, based on data collected by the vehicle’s own sensors. The system is capable of determining the slipperiness of a road on the basis of a drive of a few kilometres. The system has been used in heavy trucks, but is also directly compatible with other heavy vehicles. Using the current method, passenger cars can also make use of the slipperiness data produced by the system irrespective of their make. The method’s functionality has been tested in the field, in cooperation with VR-Transpoint and EC-Tools Oy. The development has been principally funded by Tekes.

FOOD

Old shipwreck beer to be reproduced FURTHER INFORMATION: ANNIKA WILHELMSON, ANNIKA.WILHELMSON@VTT.FI

One of the world’s oldest preserved beers will be reproduced. The beer was salvaged from an early 19th century shipwreck discovered in 2010 in the Åland archipelago southwest of Finland. It has since been analyzed at VTT in order to recreate the original recipe for modern industrial production. The beer will be made by the Stallhagen brewery of Åland, and launched to the market in June 2014. The Åland Government, which is the owner of the findings, has decided that part of the surplus from the future sales will go to specified charitable causes. VTT IMPULSE


COLUMN

Olli Ernvall Editor-in-chief VTT Impulse

Quo vadis, Finland? A gatekeeper’s adage reads: If you know where you’re going, say it. If you don’t know where you’re going, don’t go. Do Finnish decisionmakers know where our economy is heading, and by what means? Many European economies lack a credible destination and roadmap to point the way. How do we accelerate if the engine is stalling? How do we acquire fuel when liquidity is a challenge? Luckily, Finland’s situation is not quite this dire. However, our decision-makers face an enormous challenge in creating an economic policy roadmap for the future. Not only do they need sharp pencils, but also a clear idea of what is sustainable. The most important long-term method of improving our economic situation is identifying, creating and boosting new growth sectors. This requires determined political decision-making, but also seamless cooperation between businesses and research institutes such as VTT. Technology industries have kept the Finnish economy on the growth path, and will certainly continue to do so in the future. Services account for two thirds of our GDP and their share is in­creasing, but the foundation of our GDP is deeply rooted in high-tech products and exports. In February 2013, 2.4 million Finns were in employment. Ours is an innovative economy, and most of our labour force has something to do with innovations, one way or another. It has been estimated that roughly 80 per cent of jobs in Finland are related to innovations and their

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utilisation. In other words, innovations provide employment for almost 1.9 million Finns. Is this happenstance? Absolutely not. It is due to the determined choices made after the mid-1980s. Systematic investments in R&D were introduced to boost competitiveness in Finland and enable international success stories. Today, high-tech industries employ some 120,000 people in Finland. Finnish exports mostly consist of high-tech products that utilise advanced technologies. These numbers certainly give food for thought. Should we not emphasise similar choices now that the Finnish economy is facing uncertainty, and many other economies are com­ peting with us for the same markets and redetermining their economic policies? Finland is renowned for its innovation-friendly environment. For some time we have systematically invested at least three to four per cent of our GDP in R&D, a fact that has helped us maintain our competitiveness and kept the economy going. We simply cannot afford to downplay the importance of R&D in these economically challenging times. By investing in bioeconomy and other emerging industries, and maintaining our focus on R&D, we can communicate to both domestic businesses and foreign investors that we have a clear destination. This will be Finland’s road to success, job creation and continued welfare. Top talent worldwide will want to work and study here, and our stable economy will also attract investments.

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Text Kari Ahokas Photos Marjut Hetunen/EK, Anssi Kienanen, iStockphoto

Productivity from pervasive IT What will it take to boost Finnish productivity? Cleantech is a good bet – it enables growth while saving the environment.

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Finland could be a big player in cleantech.

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hings are very serious. We need to turn the course of the ship. No one outside ­F inland will do it for us,” says EK ­Director General Jyri Häkämies at his office at Eteläranta, Helsinki. He is referring to the collapse of productivity in Finland. There has been a modest improvement in productivity since the drastic drop in 2007–2009, but we have lost the advantage we had over our competitors. EK sees controlled salary development and higher retirement age as the recipe for improving Finland’s competitiveness. According to the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (ETLA), labour costs have increased more than the OECD average in Finland, which also weakens our competitiveness. The economic problems in the EU have an impact on all exporting countries. “The measures taken by the European Central Bank have calmed the situation somewhat. The basic problems, such as over-indebt-

ness and the banks’ difficulties, are still there, though. No one is expecting to see the situation in Europe improve to an extent that would help the outlook of our export industry,” Häkämies says. We must review our internal cost factors, and namely salaries. Productivity from technology

According to Häkämies, a lot can be achieved by focusing on know-how that can increase productivity in all sectors. “For example, it is important to re-acquire pole position with regard to ICT. It is an important source of productivity improvements in all other sectors,” he says. EK does not believe that companies in any sector should be favoured. Instead, we should create a favourable business environment for all companies. “By focusing on certain competences, we create opportunities for all companies who want to use them.” In a free market economy, companies that come up with the best ideas emerge as winners. “Two words say it all: growth and renewal. VTT is an important operator when it comes to renewal; it provides research data and boosts the companies’ development project,” says Häkämies. He can see numerous opportunities up for grabs in conventional industries, too, specifically through renewal. According to Häkämies, renewal means adding intelligence to existing structures.

Jyri Häkämies believes firmly in focusing on know-how that can increase productivity in all sectors. 12

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“I believe there will be a great shift once intelligence is integrated to an extent that allows households to check, for example, not only their real-time energy consumption data, but also the real-time prices of energy. This would allow them to make informed decisions about when to switch on the sauna stove, for example,” Häkämies says. New opportunities

In addition to ICT, forestry has also seen its exports decline. Häkämies takes a moment to ponder how forest industry could find new success through renewal. Biofuels? Maybe. What we know for certain is that the demand for newsprint is not going to increase in the future. However, other conventional products such as packaging cardboard enjoy high global demand. It is also a product that could be developed further. A significant amount of the world’s food is spoiled because of problems with packaging. Scientists in Finland have developed intelligent labels that can warn of possible cold chain breaks, for example.

Cleantech is the cleanest option Cleantech refers to all products, services, processes and systems that are less harmful to the environment than their counterparts. Cleantech provides value added for the customer while also mitigating harmful effects on the environment, either directly or through a value chain. Source: The Finnish National Fund for Research and Development (Sitra)

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Technology helps the environment – but is no cure-all Secretary General of WWF Finland Liisa Rohweder is positive about the opportunities in environmental technology. “There is no doubt that companies can gain competitive advantage with environmental technology. By using it, they can increase the efficiency of operations, which saves costs. Environmental technology can reduce the consumption of energy and materials,” Rohweder says. There is great demand for cleantech. According to WWF, the human ecological footprint is already too large, and keeps on growing. Today, humans use the equivalent of 1.5 planets’ worth of resources; Finns who live in a cold country and enjoy a high standard of living use the equivalent of 3 planets. The target is that by 2050 we only use the equivalent of one planet to provide the resources we use. Technology can help achieve this – but not alone. We will also need to reduce consumption. Development is too slow Energy and material efficiency has already improved, but slowly. Total consumption of natural resources has increased due to growing production volumes. Innovations that improve the utilisation of energy and materials are necessary. In addition, our economy needs to become less energy- and resourceintensive. “WWF’s target is that by 2050 practically all energy production is based on renewable sources,” Rohweder says. The planet cannot withstand the four-degree increase in temperature that will be inevitable if we do not change our course. Collapsing ecosystems and food production would make our life very difficult. However, renewable energy will not become commonplace so easily. Rohweder is wondering why fossil fuels receive more than 400 billion dollars in support from governments around the world, while renewable energies only get some 60 billion. The prices of emission permits are also not high enough to encourage the use of renewable energy sources. Increase in permit prices would boost the competitiveness of cleantech.

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“We import a lot of coal from Spain and Poland. Without state support, the price of their coal would be higher. This would open up opportunities for renewable energy,” Rohweder says. She mentions Denmark as an example: it has committed to use only renewable energy by 2050. The first Siemens prototype of a six megawatt wind power plant was erected in Denmark last autumn, and 300 of them have since been sold to the UK. “This is a case in point: innovation develop­ment requires piloting on the markets,” Rohweder says. She does not think too highly of the Finnish line of thinking, where nuclear power stifles the opportunities of renewable energy. Everything has its impact on the environment However, the use of renewable energy is not without its challenges. For example, in Finland, forest biomass can be relatively easily used to produce energy, but as the biodiversity is suffering, we should use less of our wood resources, not more. “Every form of energy production has an impact on the environment,” Rohweder reminds us. Solar power has a green image, but it has its problems, too. Solar panels require products from the mining industry. Wrongly positioned wind turbines can threaten white-tailed eagles, and thus biodiversity. According to Rohweder, positive as it is, environmental technology cannot save the environment alone. “We must acknowledge that thriftiness must encompass everything. Companies that acknowledge this can develop low-carbon, highly refined products or completely new types of business models,” she says. According to Rohweder, we have enough visions. What we need now is solutions. “I cannot emphasise the responsibility of the state enough. It is easy to pass the buck and leave the next government to deal with difficult decisions, but we need strong decisionmaking in areas such as forest and climate legislation. The environment cannot afford to wait any longer.”

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We must accept thriftiness.

Another opportunity for Finland may lie in our renewable energy. “In my previous role as the Minister of Economic Affairs, I was surprised to hear that the CEOs of large American companies were particularly interested in energy production from renewable sources in Finland,” Häkämies says. As societies become more environmentally conscious, the way energy is produced becomes increasingly significant. Google has marketed the greenness of its data centre in Hamina. According to the company, it may well be the only data centre in the world that is cooled by sea water. Clean production

According to Häkämies, green energy, or cleantech, has emerged as one of the spearheading industries in Finland. “I was born and raised near a pulp plant, and remember how, in the 1970s, cars were completely covered by something that looked like snow, in July! There was more than smoke coming out of those chimneys. The situation is very different today.” According to Häkämies, today’s Finnish forest industry is the cleanest in the world. Cleantech development in Finland has benefited from our strong engineer expertise. For this there is global demand. The worldwide concern over the climate is a well-known fact. “Despite its small size, Finland could be a big player in cleantech,” Häkämies says. Among the things that distinguish us is our location next to Russia.

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Cleantech exports through joint projects VTT’s Executive Vice President, Strategic Research Anne-Christine Ritschkoff encourages Finnish cleantech companies to export their solutions. “Our domestic market is so small that exporting is a necessity,” she says. Finland is known for its clean environment, which is something the cleantech exporters should take advantage of,” Ritschkoff points out. “It has huge market value.” Ritschkoff mentions Finnish food as an example: it enjoys a good reputation and high demand in Russia. She also emphasises the importance of cooperation between different sectors. We already have encouraging results from the Finnish companies’ eco-city projects in China, for example. These massive projects construct entire eco-friendly cities, including city infrastructure and water management solutions. “Finland has the expertise required for this. We should identify similar export opportunities that can stem from cooperation across different sectors,” Ritschkoff says. Finland has strong traditions in the research of environmental technologies, for example, carried out in cooperation by univer-

“Just consider this: Russian environmental regulation will develop over the coming decades as the standard of life improves. Finnish cleantech industry will have a very large potential market when our Eastern neighbour begins to renew its manufacturing industry,” Häkämies believes. Chile has already established close cleantech cooperation with Finland, despite the distance between the two countries.

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sities of applied science, research institutes such as VTT, and companies. “Now that industries are undergoing a change, companies may need that little bit of extra courage to find a new direction. However, the potential in new interfaces is not insignificant,” Ritschkoff says. Kemira is an example of a company that has changed its focus: from a chemicals manufacturer into a company that specialises in water purification chemicals and solutions. According to Ritschkoff, the most intensely growing sector in cleantech at the moment is clean energy solutions. Biobased fuels were the first product to enjoy strong growth in bioeconomy. Utilisation of solar power is another emerging area in which companies like Fortum are interested. Utilisation of waste is also enjoying a boost. Ritschkoff mentions Lahden Energia as the first gas plant in the world to use only recycled fuel. It utilises easily combustible waste that is unsuitable for recycling to produce electricity and district heat. According to research commissioned by the Finnish cleantech sector, the industry is growing faster than expected. Its turnover in 2011 amounted to more than 20 billion euros.

Finnish technologies are delivered to Chile to sectors such as mining. “Not everyone realises that Finnish mining expertise is in demand globally,” Häkämies says. EK believes in the future of mining and the investments it brings to Finland. The confederation believes that we should not let individual problems harm the entire sector. 

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Text: Harri Setälä

New hemicellulosebased materials from wood In addition to cellulose, wood mass is a source of hemicellulose, which is a suitable raw material for various applications. The hemicellulose extracted from birch is called xylan, which can be modified for different uses.

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inland has no oil reserves, but plenty of forests. Up until now, wood has mostly been utilised on an industrial-scale as a construction material, a source of energy or in paper manufacturing. A prevailing current trend is more efficient and comprehensive utilisation of all components derived from wood and plant materials by using them as source materials for different production processes and products. This can be achieved in a so-called bio­ refinery, a facility that integrates biomass conversion processes and equipment or plants to produce heat and power, as well as highly refined chemicals and products from biomass. The biorefinery concept is analogous to today’s petroleum-based production chain, which produces fuels, chemicals and materials. Long traditions in bio research Finnish scientists have studied comprehensive utilisation of wood materials for several years in programmes such as the Future Biorefinery programme financed by Tekes and FIBIC (Finn18

ish Bioeconomy Cluster). Programme participants include universities, research institutes and several forestry and chemicals companies. Launched in 2009, the programme spans five years and has a budget of some €50 million. VTT also participates in other national and international bio research projects and programmes. VTT coordinates projects, for example, in the Woodwisdom research programme, such as the Prolignin project that focuses on the research and utilisation of lignin, and the Grease project on industrial application of wood-based fatty acids. VTT has a long tradition in the research of cellulose and paper: work on these research topics has been further intensified over recent years as a result of the merger of KCL into VTT and the start-up of the Future Biorefinery programme. VTT’s own research initiatives include the Industrial biomaterials spearhead programme, which focuses on industrial application of materials produced using renewable raw materials. The aim is to generate new, sustainable value VTT IMPULSE – SCIENCE


chains that make biomass use more effective, as well as to reduce oil dependency and the carbon footprint of consumption. The programme, for example, devel­ ops materials, new material applications and production technologies based on biofibres, (nano)­cellulose and bio-based monomers and polymers. The research continues in a new four-year spearhead programme called Bioeconomy that began in early 2013.

Structures of cellulose and birch xylan polysaccharide chains

XYLAN

CELLULOSE

Polysaccharides from wood The main components of wood are polysaccharides cellulose and hemicellulose, and polyphenolic lignin polymer. In addition to these, plant materials contain other biopolymers such as polysaccharides starch and pectin, as well as proteins. In cellulose manufacturing, the wood cooking processes extract significant amounts of hemicellulose and lignin from the wood fibres into the by-product and waste streams. The traditional paper manufacturing process is geared towards efficient extraction and utilisation of one component, namely cellulose, while other wood components have up to now been mostly used in energy production. There are some examples of other industrial applications, however, such as the production of xylitol. The raw material for xylitol, a hemicellulose called xylan, can be extracted from waste sludge produced during the kraft pulping process. The xylan polymer is hydrolysed into xylose, which is further refined into xylitol. Cellulose consists of glucose units that are bound together in a specific way (see Figure 1). Cellulose molecules are typically very large, and bind with other cellulose molecules to form (nano)fibrils and, finally, cellulose fibres. Cellulose is chemically very durable, and insoluble in water, for example. Starch, which also consists of glucose units, behaves differently. This is because of a different bonding mechanism between the glucose units and the branched structure of starch. Starch becomes soluble in water when heated, and also breaks down more easily than cellulose. This is why humans can use starch as a food and energy source. VTT IMPULSE – SCIENCE

Figure 1. Cellulose and xylan structures (Ac = acetyl group).

A tendency towards more efficient and comprehensive utilisation of all components derived from wood and plant materials

Hemicelluloses have heterogeneous structures that vary from one wood and plant species to another, comprising different combinations and mixes of monosaccharides. Typical monosaccharides in hemicellulose include glucose, galactose, mannose, which are hexoses, and arabinose and xylose, which are pentoses. Hemicelluloses also contain smaller amounts of other monosaccharides. In wood cells, cellulose fibres are bound together by the hemicelluloses on their surface and lignin, which is found between the fibres and acts as a binding agent. Depending on species, wood contains 20 to 30 per cent of lignin, 30 to 40 per cent of cellulose and 20 to 30 per cent of hemicelluloses. Hemicelluloses vary between wood species (Galacto)glucomannans (GGM) are the most typical hemicelluloses in softwood, and (glu19


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curono) xylans in hardwood. Larch, for example, contains arabinogalactan. Softwood and hardwood contain both glucomannans and xylans, and one or other is typically the dominating type. Pine and spruce also contain significant amounts of xylan, whereas birch contains only very small amounts of hemicelluloses other than xylan. The xylan found in eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) is very similar to that found in the silver birch (Betula bendula) native to Finland. Both contain some 20 to 25 per cent of xylan. Figure 1 illustrates the structure of xylan hemicellulose extracted from birch. Xylan typically consist of one 4-methylglucuronic acid monomer (GlcA) which is bound with one in every 10 to 15 xylan units. About half of the hydroxyl groups of xylan are acetylated (Ac). These substituents are typically removed from the xylan backbone during wood cooking processes and other xylan extraction processes. This modifies the xylan extracted from birch so that it becomes insoluble in water. However, hemicelluloses are often watersoluble. The galactoglucomannan found in spruce, for example, can be extracted from the wood using hot water.

The molecule weight of xylans found in hardwood (birch, eucalyptus, beech, aspen) varies roughly between 10 000 and 40 000 g/mol (Mw) and the molecules are small in comparison to cellulose molecules. The molecule weights quoted in scientific articles vary greatly depending on factors such as the xylan extraction method and the analysis method. Different publications may quote very different molecule weights for xylan extracted from one and the same plant species. Hemicellulose extraction Hemicelluloses such as galactoglucomannans and xylan can be extracted from wood by hot water extraction. Xylan can also be extracted using polar organic solvents or acid catalysed hydrolysis. The alkaline extraction method was patented in 1995. This process extracts xylan that is no longer water-soluble, because its natural substituents (GlcA and Ac) have been removed from the xylan backbone. Extracted xylan can be purified by either precipitation from a neutralised extract or by means of an organic solvent or ultrafiltration. Depending on the extraction method, hydrolysis of hemicellulose may produce oligomers and/or monosaccharides. Chemical modification of xylan

Xylan esterification

Figure 2. Xylan esterification (i) with acetyl chloride or (ii) acetic anhydride or etherification with (iii) methyl iodide (Williamson ether synthesis) or (iv) hydroxy alkylation with ethylene oxide.

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Chemical modification of polysaccharides, such as cellulose, is usually necessary to achieve desired or improved product qualities. Some of the most common cellulose derivatives include cellulose acetate (CA), carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) and hydroxyethyl and hydroxypropyl cellulose (HEC/HPC). Xylan extracted by means of alkalic methods must be chemically modified to make it a suitable raw material for various applications, such as a binder in coating materials or a component in bioplastics production. Most often, these modification methods include esterification and etherification. Figure 2 illustrates some examples of both methods. The simplest esterification method of the hydroxyl groups of xylan is reattaching to the backbone the acetyl groups that were removed during the extraction and purification of xylan. Full esterification of hydroxyl groups usually improves the solvency of polysaccharide VTT IMPULSE – SCIENCE


into organic solvents, but not into water. Esterification makes xylan more hydrophobic, thus improving its thermoplastic qualities and compatibility with commercial polymers, for example. Xylan acetate alone is not sufficient to achieve desired product qualities. The use of other fatty acids that have longer chains is typically required with the acetyl group. Commercial cellulose acetate butyrate (CAB) is a good example. Etherification can be carried out with the so-called Williamson ether synthesis or hydroxy alkylation. See Figure 2 for examples. In hydroxy alkylation, a reagent containing the epoxy group, such as ethylene oxide in Figure 2, reacts with the hydroxyl groups of xylan. A new hydroxyl group is created simultaneously as the epoxy ring opens. Hydroxy alkylation has two benefits: it is less sensitive to side reactions caused by water than esterification methods or Williamson ether synthesis, and the reaction can be performed in alkalic water. Moreover, the solubility characteristics of the products do not change as radically as with other methods. Many xylan derivatives of this type are very water-soluble (10–20 p-%), similar to commercially available hydroxyethyl and hydro­xypropyl celluloses. At the same time, they can be relatively soluble to some polar organic solvents, such as ethanol and dimethylacetamide, as is the case with other similar cellulose derivatives. As a result of this characteristic, additional chemical modification is easier in a dry organic solvent without the disruptive effect of water. In principle, by using a combination of different chemical modification methods and commercially available reagents, it is possible to create a very large number of different xylan derivatives. This helps customise the required material properties according to intended use. Simply changing the degree of substitution in hydroxypropylation or hydroxyethylation can have a significant effect on the thermoplasticity and solubility of xylan ethers. The epoxy reagent based xylan modification method has proved a very useful and effective means of creating improved xylan derivatives, or xylan ethers, that have good water-solubility and thermomechanical qualities. VTT IMPULSE – SCIENCE

We need to produce a wide range of highly refined woodbased products.

Possible applications for xylan VTT has studied chemical modification and applications of xylan since 2007, including the possibility of replacing commercial oil-based binders in paper coating or as a barrier in packaging cardboard. Many xylan derivatives under study are highly water-soluble. Thus, binder and barrier applications require that the xylan ether is bound to its platform and/or cross-linked so that it creates a film that is not water-soluble. On the other hand, water-soluble xylan films are suitable for applications where solubility is a desired quality. When necessary, it is also possible to mix and add different softeners or cross-linkers to modify their material characteristics. Xylan ethers can be cross-linked using, for example, di- or tricarboxylic acids, which form ester links between the hydroxyl groups in the xylan chains. After hydroxy alkylation, xylans can be used in the manufacture of water-insoluble xylan-based biopolymers by means of esterification or etherification. Such polymers can be used either as is, as new types of bioplastics, or as components for commercial polymers and plastics. Traditional plastic modification methods, such as extrusion and compounding, are suitable for modifying these types of xylan ethers and esters. Xylan can also be derivatised by, for example, adding a suitable substituent that contains a double bond. In such cases, xylan can be cross-linked or branched with acrylate or acrylamide monomers, thus achieving a desired change in product characteristics. 21


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A xylan derivative containing an allyl group was identified as a quite promising binder in the suitability testing of binders in paper coating agents when compared to the commercially available product. Moreover, a water-soluble film that contains a double bond can be cross-linked in a manner that significantly increases its water and moisture resistance. Xylan ether films usually have good mechanical durability. They are also very flexible, transparent and clear. When suitable additives are introduced, they are relatively stretchy and elastic: tensility can be up to 20 to 30 per cent. Figure 3 illustrates two examples of xylan ether films. Several scientific articles have been published to discuss these results. Because those xylan derivatives modified as above are highly water-soluble and probably quite hydrophilic, VTT has also studied their possible use as absorbent materials. Figure 4 illustrates a typical xylan-based hydrogel that contains 90 per cent of water, but remains mechanically quite durable. The hydrogel is manufactured from a xylan ether that contains an allyl substituent. An aldaric-acid-based cross-linker is also used. This method has produced hydrogels and aerogels that absorb water reasonably well. The research has yielded promising results that have since been published. Aldaric acids, such as galactaric, xylonic and arabinic acids, have been produced by chemical oxidation of monosaccharides or by biotechnological means. Aldaric acids are dicarboxylic acids that are suitable for the manufacture of polyesters and polyamides and for use as cross-linkers in hydrogels.

VTT has studied their biotechnological manufacturing method intensively for several years as part of the White Biotechnology and Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence financed by the Academy of Finland. What next for wood-based products? The main challenge in the utilisation of hemicelluloses is the lack of raw material, such as industrially manufactured xylan. Current cellulose manufacturing processes may not fulfil all the requirements and principles of future biorefineries. It is likely that new biorefinery processes introduced in the future will be quite different from those currently used. They must take into account the characteristics of each wood or plant material component and its behaviour during different stages of the refining process, as well as the final utilisation, intended use and application. A biorefinery process may aim to break cellulose and hemicelluloses into monosaccharides. This is done when the monosaccharides are to be used as raw materials in industrial biotechnology processes: in the production of bioethanol, lactic acid or other basic chemicals, for example. On the other hand, a biorefinery may still produce cellulose or other products derived from it, while also collecting hemicellulose as is, and producing completely new biopolymers, bioplastics or coating, paint and adhesive agents from the hemicellulose. If we want to renew forestry and forest breeding and maintain them as important contributors to the Finnish success story, we must enter the era of the new biorefinery concept soon.

Xylan ether films

Xylan-based hydrogel

Figure 3. Flexible and transparent xylan ether film that can be shaped easily into different forms (the bubble contains a piece of birch bark).

Figure 4. Xylan-based hydrogel contains 90 per cent water, but remains mechanically quite durable.

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We must enter the era of the new biorefinery concept soon.

File: Harri Setälä Dr. Harri Setälä joined VTT in 1999, having previously worked at Danisco’s research centre. In 2009, he defended his doctoral thesis in the field of organic and wood chemistry, “Regio and stereoselectivity of oxidative coupling reactions of phenols: Spirodienones as construction units in lignin.” Currently, his main research topics include chemical modification of cellulose, cellulose fibre and hemicellulose, as well as lignin. He has published 18 scientifically referred publications.

Cellulose and paper manufacturing may not be profitable in Finland much longer. These operations have already been partially off-shored to countries where production costs are lower. We need to produce highly refined wood-based products, and a wide range of them. Finland has the capacity to establish and commission new types of biorefinery and biorefinery concepts in quick succession, as long as financing is available and we adopt a bold and forward-thinking attitude. Luckily, decision-makers are beginning to grasp this and have made significant investments in biorefinery research and development. This alone is not enough, however. R&D activities should continue for at least another 5 to 10 years, and at least at the same intensity as in recent years.

References Peresin, M., Kammiovirta, K., Setälä H., Tammelin, T. 2012. Structural features and water interactions of etherified xylan thin films. J. Polym. Environ. 20, pp. 895–904.

Kataja-Aho, J., Haavisto, S., Asikainen, J., Hyvärinen, S., Vuoti, S. 2011. The influence of cationized birch xylan on wet and dry strength of fine paper. BioRes. 7, pp. 1713–1728.

Harlin, A., Setälä, H., Pohjanlehto, H. 2012. A method for making specific products from polysaccharide molecule. Patent WO 12127119 A2.

Vuoti, S., Laatikainen, E., Heikkinen, H., Johansson, L-S., Saharinen, ­E., Retulainen, E. 2012. Chemical modification of cellulosic fibers for better convertibility in packaging applications. Carbohydr. Polym., in press.

Pohjanlehto, H., Setälä, H., Kammiovirta, K., Harlin, A. 2011. The use of N,N’-diallylaldardiamides as cross-linkers in xylan derivatives-based hydrogels. Carbohydr. Res. 346, pp. 2736–2745. Rajesh K. Jain, Sjöstedt, M., Glasser, W.G. 2001. Thermoplastic xylan ­derivatives with propylene oxide. Cellulose 7, pp. 319–336. Glasser, W.G., Rajesh K., Sjöstedt, M. 1995 Thermoplastic pentosan-rich polysaccharides from biomass. US Patent 5,430,142.

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Hakala, T. K., Liitiä, T., Suurnäkki, A. 2012. Enzyme-aided alkaline extraction of oligosaccharides and polymeric xylan from hardwood kraft pulp. Carbohydr. Polym. in press. Laine, C., Harlin, A., Hartman, H., Hyvärinen, S., Kammiovirta, K., Krogerus, B., Pajari, H., Rautkoski, H., Setälä, H., Sievänen, J., Uotila, J., Vähä-Nissi, M. 2012. Hydroxyalkylated xylans – Their synthesis and application in coatings for packaging and paper. Ind. Crops Prod. 44, pp. 692–704.

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Text: Boris Krassi & Sauli Kiviranta

The unity of human and machine Virtual and augmented reality helps to leverage the strongest human abilities for creating better human-machine systems.

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he history of humanity demonstrates the ever increasing variety and complexity of human-machine systems. The first men grabbing a stone axe, Columbus setting sail towards the New World, Neil Armstrong landing on the Moon, and millions of commuters driving their cars, are all examples of human-machine systems. These systems are defined as the unity of human and machine working together towards a common goal, be it hunting a mammoth, crossing the ocean, landing on the Moon or reaching home safely. Together, the human and the machine form an organism in which neither part is able to reach the common goal alone, and neither is more important than the other. This mirrors the human body’s reliance on both brain and heart – the body’s goal of survival is reached only when both organs work together. Two streams of thought Human-machine systems are deeply rooted in the history and structure of civilisation. Discussion on the interrelations of human and machine (society and technology) has been going on for a very long time, culminating in the 24

20th century with the conceptual debate between two streams of thought. The first stream emphasised the human and its unique abilities, and is represented, for example, by Frankl’s “Man’s search for meaning” [1], Vernadsky’s works on noosphere [2] – ‘the sphere of human thought’, and Wiener’s “The human use of human beings” [3]. The second stream sought global political and financial superiority largely supported by technological means. This is represented by a whole spectrum of phenomena, from the bombing of Hiroshima through to the exploitation of mass media to manipulate public consciousness. Even today there is a belief that war boosts technological progress, which in turn is thought to be good for humanity. However, little attention is paid to the massive and irreversible loss of human potential, and war’s catastrophic effect on the development of humanity. Another example is that the present attention to environmental, social and economic sustainability [4] often fails to consider the human potential for severing the link between a nation’s wealth and its energy consumption. VTT IMPULSE – SCIENCE


Heuristic control helps to tackle unfamiliar situations.

Rather, social sustainability is sometimes reduced to a mechanistic conclusion, such as “the only way we can preserve and nurture other and more precious freedoms is by relinquishing the freedom to breed” [5]. Another modern trend is global outsourcing and offshoring, perceived as a strategic problem by the Western world. But the actual problem is a failure to recognise offshoring as a natural phenomenon that will exist while ever there is a gradient in labour cost. Rather than resisting it, we should instead recognise and support the value of knowledge and skills as a prime asset of domestic industry. Human-machine systems: cybernetics or ergonomics? The controversy surrounding technological developments during and after World War II prompted a wide investigation into the distribution of functions between machine and human. Study of the analogies of “control and communication in the animal and the machine” led to the rise of cybernetics [6] and general systems theory [7]. The science of ergonomics was developed at the same time, aiming to understand and define the function of the human operator, initially in aerospace, automobile and computer technology applications. As defined by the International Ergonomics Association, “ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of the interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theoretical principles, data and methods to design in order to optimise human wellbeing and overall system performance” [8]. Similarly, the object of human-machine systems is the joint function of human and machine as a system, a single organism; the goal is the understanding and design of better human-machine systems, i.e. systems that fit better for reaching their goals. VTT IMPULSE – SCIENCE

Whether human-machine systems can be considered as a synthesis of cybernetics and ergonomics, or simply as a branch of ergonomics, might well be the subject of debate, especially in the light of a wider definition of ergonomics in the context of “purposeful interacting socio-technical systems” [9]. However, the cybernetic focus on “efficiency of action” [10] that treats the human and the machine part equally, the wide application of cross-disciplinary analogies, and the involvement of such system-theoretical concepts as goals, system effect, information, communication and feedback, are rarely found in ergonomics. The strength of the human A good example of a human-machine system is the cargo ship. The primary goal of the system is to deliver the cargo. The system has a number of elements – the ship, the crew, the captain – that work together to reach the primary system goal. The main function of the captain is to exercise heuristic control. Unlike lower levels of control that are characterised by one goal (e.g. a hand tool) or several (e.g. a reprogrammable computer), with limited freedom and considerable certainty in the means of achieving these goals, heuristic control is defined by a large variety of goals and a lack of formal algorithms of how they might be achieved (e.g. the captain during the storm) [11]. In other words, heuristic control helps to tackle unfamiliar situations, and relies on an extensive use of mental models, images and analogies. So, while the captain is at the top of the control hierarchy, and his ability to exercise heuristic control is maximally exploited in the system design, there is no emphasis as such on his “wellbeing” or “user-centricity” unless they happen to contribute to the primary system goal. The same applies to CEOs or state leaders – it is all about goal-centricity rather than human-centricity or luxury. 25


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Most importantly, the element at the top of the control hierarchy of the human-machine system should be able to exercise heuristic control. In principle, this would apply as much to a group of people as to a supercomputer, but today’s technology is still so primitive that only the human is capable of performing heuristic control. Human and machine: understanding the differences Common to ergonomics and human-machine systems is the attempt to understand the abilities and limitations of the human. To clarify this, we must lay out the principal differences between human and machine, at least from the engineering point of view. When designing a human-machine system, the engineer must keep in mind that the human part and the machine are described in different terms, and that traditional engineering models are inadequate when it comes to representing the human. First of all, the human has considerable physical variety. We can be tall or short, slim or full-bodied, young or old, male or female, sporty or unfit, energetic or tired, and so on. Secondly, the human can learn, while any activity carries an imprint of personality, and people naturally take different roles in a team. Thirdly, the human holds so-called tacit knowledge, i.e. knowledge deeply rooted in one’s mental model that cannot easily be expressed explicitly, for example, in writing. “We know more than we can tell” [12] is a famous expression about tacit knowledge. Fourthly, the human can exercise heuristic control, which was introduced above. While we cannot discuss all these differences in this article, the bottom line is that any

Only the human is able to make decisions in entirely unfamiliar situations.

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variability and uncertainty in machines is incomparable to the variability and uncertainty in humans. We do not claim that the machine is always simpler than the human. But while the engineers try to avoid or limit uncertainty in the machine, the human remains inherently variable and uncertain. The human should not be reduced to a mere resource, a person-hour, a record in a database, or a kinematic skeleton model. In this respect, engineering models and design methods that are suitable for machines fail to represent the human or to design human work. Thus, according to a study at Volvo [13], only 45% (57 out of 126 cases) of the evaluations based on the digital human model simulation correctly predicted the ergonomic condition of the corresponding real tasks. There is obviously room for improvement. Participatory approach Sometimes engineers perceive the human and human work as a problem. This is not right. The human is simply different from the machine and cannot be handled in the same way. A general solution to this difference is sought through a participatory approach [14]. This engages various specialists – from engineers and managers to workers and operators – to understand how human work is actually done “by examples” and to use the tacit knowledge of the participants in analysis and design of the human-machine systems. The participatory sessions are not necessarily collocated. These can be distributed in time and space, and based on an artificial collaborative environment. The recent trends are open innovation, co-creation, crowdsourcing and even do-it-yourself [15] – all taking advantage of the knowledge and creativity of the clients and end-users. The power of the image The fact that humans carry a lot of knowledge about their own work has two important consequences. Firstly, no knowledge management strategy can be reduced entirely to technological means. Knowledge understood as an “organisation’s intellectual assets” [16] includes not only databases, means of knowledge articulation, VTT IMPULSE – SCIENCE


and retrieval, but primarily the people themselves. As a result, frequent personnel changes, layoffs, and massive offshoring diminish an organisation’s intellectual assets in exchange for short-term financial benefit. Secondly, the organisational knowledge creation process must be established, “making available and amplifying knowledge created by individuals as well as crystallising and connecting it to an organisation’s knowledge system” [17]. This process has four modalities of bi-directional tacit-explicit knowledge conversion [18]. The first modality is externalisation (tacit-to-explicit): expressing oneself to others. In fact, this is a process of extracting an external image – a metaphor – of the object or situation from one’s mental model [19]. The second modality is internalisation (explicit-to-tacit): understanding what others express – the process of linking the external image to one’s mental model. The third modality is socialisation (tacitto-tacit): interacting with others on the ‘do-itas-I-do-it’ principle. The fourth modality is combination (explicit-to-explicit): making inferences on the external images, e.g. by means of semantic web technologies. All these four modalities require the extraction, communication, and linking of the external images. Here is an example of a possible knowledge creation chain. A designer expresses a problem by extracting an external image from his mental model, e.g. draws a picture (externalisation). The extracted image is communicated to a worker who links the external image to his mental model (internalisation). To help the linking (internalisation), the designer must extract an external image such as will maximally fit the worker’s mental model. Now the worker can express his hands-on knowledge in the form of the external image and to convey it back to the designer. Knowledge is created in this chain: we know that a good way to understand a problem is to explain it to someone else. Other chains are also possible, but one way or another all are based on extracting, communicating and linking external images. VTT IMPULSE – SCIENCE

No knowledge management strategy can be reduced entirely to technological means.

It is no coincidence that similar concepts are exploited in public relations, for example, the ‘message – communication channel – target audience’ chain, as well as images and metaphors. Virtual reality technology as a knowledge creation facilitator It is here where advanced simulation and visualisation technologies such as virtual and augmented reality start playing a role as knowledge creation facilitators. Virtual reality is a paradigm that enables the same means of perception of the computer-generated world (a virtual model) as the real world (the modelled object). The properties of the virtual model are obtained through interacting with it by means of virtual experiments, i.e. the virtual model must be treated in the same way as the real object that it models [20]. Because of the ability to perceive the virtual model in the same way as reality, and to engage in interaction with it, the use of virtual models helps to extract, communicate and link external images in the knowledge creation chain. Of course, the real object or situation can be used as an external image, although this is not always feasible due to cost or real-world constraints. But when it is partially feasible to use real objects, augmented reality can be exploited to combine the real and the virtual. It is not a question of whether real is better than virtual, or vice versa: it is about flexibility. When the real object is not available, one has the choice of substituting it with a virtual model. Virtual modelling brings all the benefits of modelling in general but, unlike traditional 27


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Only virtual modelling enables accounting for the human in a non-reductionist way.

File: Boris Krassi Dr. Boris Krassi is a senior scientist and senior project manager at VTT in the human-machine interaction and virtual engineering team. His research interests are in systems theory, cybernetics, human-machine systems, dynamic virtual prototyping and adaptive computing systems.

B.Sc. Sauli Kiviranta is a research scientist at VTT in the human-machine interaction and virtual engineering team. His research interests are in systems theory, cybernetics, human-machine systems, virtual and augmented reality and knowledge engineering.

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engineering modelling primarily applicable to machines, only virtual modelling enables accounting for the human in a non-reductionist way. Research in human-machine systems The problems that we briefly discuss in this article have been investigated in two large VTT-coordinated EU-funded research projects: ManuVAR (2009–2012) and Use-it-wisely (2013–2016). The ManuVAR project – Manual work support throughout system lifecycle by exploiting virtual and augmented reality – focused on high-value, high-knowledge manual work that requires years of training and experience, and cannot therefore be automated or offshored. The project covered five industry applications: terrestrial satellite assembly, design of assembly lines in small enterprises, maintenance in the railway sector, training in nondestructive techniques in power plant maintenance, and heavy machinery productisation. A number of manual-work-related issues common to all applications were identified. The most prominent issues were problems with the bi-directional communication between various actors across the system lifecycle, poor interfaces to information systems, and inefficient knowledge management [21]. These issues were addressed by developing a virtual model as a communication mediator for all actors in the lifecycle: from workers to engineers and managers. Adaptive virtual and augmented reality user interfaces also helped to fit the complex virtual model to all actors. The Use-it-wisely project – Innovative continuous upgrades of high investment prod-

uct-services – will concentrate on systems with a long service life, such as steam turbines, rock crushers, future service spacecraft, office workplaces, heavy goods vehicles and boats. The project is based on the human-machine-systems approach. Along the product lifecycle, actor-product-service systems are continuously formed and adapted to satisfy their changing goals and uncertain environment, by modifying system parameters, procedures, and structure. As a result, the actor-product-service system becomes self-organised and self-regulated, employing the knowledge and skills of human actors connected by an interactive collaborative environment. In these projects, the industry indicated considerable interest in the human-machine systems research. The research is supported by the EU2020 strategy [22], where human abilities are made fundamental to the future innovation-based society as it becomes evident that a higher intellectual effort [23] can compensate for the negative economic effect of limited basic resources and shortage of energy. Recommendations for the future We would like to summarise a few recommendations for a wide audience of industry top managers and policy makers: 1. Human abilities are fundamental for sustainable social and economic prosperity. Instead of battling the natural phenomenon of global offshoring or the limits of production, the industry could focus on the type of work and systems that leverage the strongest human abilities: heuristic control, skills and knowledge. VTT IMPULSE – SCIENCE


References [1] Frankl, V. 1959. Man’s search for meaning. Beacon press, Boston. [2] Oldfield, J.D., Shaw, D.J.B. 2006. V.I. Vernadsky and the noosphere concept: Russian understandings of society–nature interaction. Geoforum, No. 37, pp. 145–154. [3] Wiener, N. 1954. The human use of human beings. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. [4] Report of the IUCN renowned thinkers meeting. 29.–31 January 2006. http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/iucn_future_of_sustanability.pdf. [5] Hardin, G. 1968. The tragedy of the commons. Science, Vol. 162, pp. 1243–1248. [6] Wiener, N. 1948. Cybernetics or the control and communication in the animal and the machine. MIT Press, Cambridge. [7] von Bertalanffy, L. 1969. General systems theory: foundations, development, applications. George Braziller, New York. [8] International Ergonomics Association, www.iea.cc [9] Wilson, J.R. 2000. Fundamentals of ergonomics in theory and practice. Applied Ergonomics, Vol. 31, pp. 557–567. [10] Couffignal, L. 1956. Essai d’une définition générale de la cybernétique. The First International Congress on Cybernetics, Namur, Belgium, Gauthier-Villars, Paris, pp. 46–54. [11] Lyalikov, A. 1978. Man - electronics - ship. Sudostroenie, Leningrad.

Engaging humans is key to designing humanmachine systems.

[12] Polanyi, M. 1966. The tacit dimension. Doubleday. [13] Lämkull, D., Hanson, L., Örtengren, R. 2009. A comparative study of digital human modelling simulation results and their outcomes in reality: A case study within manual assembly of automobiles. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, Vol. 39, s. 428–441 (table 4, p. 432). [14] Cavaye, A. 1995. User participation in system development revisited. Information & Management, No. 28, pp. 311–323. [15] Fox, S. 2013. Paradigm shift: do-it-yourself (DIY) invention and production of physical goods for use or sale. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 24, Is. 2, pp. 218–234. [16] Gartner’s view on knowledge management. 9 September 2010. www.gartner.com [17] Nonaka, I., Krogh, G. 2009. Tacit knowledge and knowledge conversion: Controversy and advancement. Organisational Knowledge Creation Theory, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 635–652.

2. People carry and create knowledge. Once this is recognised and people’s knowledge is put to work, many societal challenges of today, such as unemployment, ageing population and shortage of natural resources, could be addressed. Furthermore, any company knowledge management strategy must rely primarily on people, and support the knowledge creation chain. 3. A human-machine system is a unity of machine and human working towards their common goal. Engaging humans is key to designing human-machine systems. Virtual and augmented reality are particularly useful in engaging the human and supporting knowledge creation. VTT IMPULSE – SCIENCE

[18] Nonaka, I., Takeuchi, H. 1994. A dynamic theory of organisational knowledge creation. Organisational Sciences, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 14–37. [19] Schaffernicht, M., Groesser, S. 2011. A comprehensive method for comparing mental models of dynamic systems. European Journal of Operational Research, No. 210, pp. 57–67. [20] Krassi, B., Kiviranta, S., Liston, P. et al. 2010. ManuVAR PLM model, methodology, architecture, and tools for manual work support throughout system lifecycle. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (AHFE2010), Miami, Florida, USA, ISBN-13: 978-0-9796435-4-5. [21] Krassi, B. 2012. Manual work support throughout the system life cycle by exploiting Virtual and Augmented Reality (ManuVAR). Production matters: VTT in global trends, ed. K. Häkkinen, pp. 84–88, ISBN 978-951-38-7860-3, www.vtt.fi/inf/pdf/researchhighlights/2012/R3.pdf. [22] EU2020 - A European strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020 [23] Hoffman, R. 2010. A cybernetic approach to economics. Cybernetics and Human Knowing, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 89–97.

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Text: Olli Ventä

Success story: FIMECC VTT is an active participant in the Finnish Metals and Engineering Competence Cluster FIMECC, which promotes the competitiveness of the sector. The results of the first FIMECC research projects are being finalised.

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etals industry, mechanical engineering and shipbuilding account for a significant portion, i.e. some 26 per cent, of the total value of Finnish exports. Promoting expertise in these areas, FIMECC is a national Strategic Centre for Science, Technology, and Innovation (in Finnish: SHOK). Members of FIMECC include leading Finnish-based enterprises, such as ABB, Andritz, Boliden, Cargotec, Fastems, Kone, Kone­ cranes, Kumera, Metso, Outokumpu, Outotec, PrimaPower, Raute, Rolls-Royce, Ruukki, STX Finland and Tieto. Academic participants include VTT, all major Finnish universities and some Universities of Applied Sciences. When it comes to the thematic scope in terms of technology and business development, FIMECC’s themes complement each other nicely in comparison to other clusters, such as CLEEN (Cluster for Energy and Environment) or the Finnish Bioeconomy cluster. At the beginning of the 2010s, traditional heavy industry that is undergoing modernisation accounted for some 75 per cent of the total value of Finnish exports, up notably from the 57 per cent reported in 2000. The world has changed since the last time this so-called traditional industry was this im30

portant for our exports – before the heyday of mobile technology. The five megatrends of this era recognised by FIMECC include expanding globalisation; the growth of certain developing countries into engines of global economy; acceleration of new technology or multi-technology adoption; rise of environmental consciousness; and knowledge as capital. Finland has been considered a winner as regards globalisation, and with good reason, but the country will continue to face tough challenges. The world does not stand still. Theme-specific development For the 2010s FIMECC and the organisations it represents have set new objectives for the bold promotion of Finnish success stories. Successive or long-term economic downturns are not inevitable. FIMECC divides its operations into five strategic research themes: 1. Service business How are industrial service concepts developed? How do end customers organise and prioritise their business by outsourcing or subcontracting some of their operations? How are industrial services offered? What does global, networked business mean? How are service VTT IMPULSE – SCIENCE


Acceleration of new technology and multi-technology adoption is one of the megatrends identified by traditional industry.

innovations developed in networks? How are costs, benefits and responsibilities shared? At the moment, the turnover of Finnish enterprises is mostly generated from machines, equipment and materials. The goal is that by 2020, project-based business and industrial service business that builds on knowledge, expertise and experience in a new way will represent an increased share of companies’ business. 2. User experience Companies need to be able to serve increasingly diverse user profiles and create distinguishable designs. The goal is that by 2020 Finnish industry will be at the leading edge of crossdisciplinary user experience design. 3. Global networks Finnish industry carries out most of its business in a networked manner. Networking is increasingly global, and not only in industrial services. Thus, the industry’s goal is to improve and develop its competitiveness and value creation capability in networked business, and to build and develop winning networks.

as tools and systems that enable design, control, project and service business. 5. Breakthrough materials New materials and special products are important to the industry’s overall competitiveness. The division into strategic research areas illustrates how FIMECC as a strategic centre carries out its basic task, which is the renewal of Finnish industry sectors. In addition to the selected research areas, FIMECC focuses on four cross-cutting themes that help the management of the operational content between the strategic research areas, as well as drive the cross-industry and cross-disciplinary activities between the industries and strategic centres. FIMECC has identified the following as relevant cross-cutting themes: Holistic life cycle approach Product design and manufacture is not solely focused on sales, but complemented by a holistic product life cycle approach to support customers throughout the entire life cycle, from product idea to final disposal or recycling of the product.

4. Intelligent solutions

Sustainability

The key strategy of Finnish industry is the integration of intelligence in machines, equipment, manufacturing and production systems, as well

Saving the environment is considered an integral part of product development and business, and as competitive edge for Finnish industry.

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FIMECC’s first-generation programmes are already providing results.

Networking, ecosystems How do we increase value added together with partners, and create successful world-class networks and ecosystems that are based in Finland? Digitalisation The entire life cycle – product development, manufacturing, usage and maintenance – is controlled by means of IT. Examples include the tools and simulators used by design staff, as well as real-time manufacturing control and automation systems. Processes, components, machines and plants are increasingly controlled by means of virtual and digital technologies and tools. VTT in FIMECC VTT has been an important contributor to the development of FIMECC and other strategic SHOK centres. VTT has expertise in all FIMECC research areas, and has in fact been an important contributor during the specification of the strategic research areas. VTT has also influenced FIMECC’s Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) and has developed methodologies for programme preparation and promoted international cooperation practices. VTT’s representatives actively contribute to the operation of FIMECC’s Board of Directors, R&D Council and Steering Groups. VTT and VTT’s professional programme and project managers have played a particularly important role in programme and project preparation while VTT’s research scientists produce high-quality research results in cooperation with enterprises and universities. Combining scientific excellence and industrial relevance, Strategic Centres for Science, Technology, and Innovation provide VTT with an excellent forum for implementing its mission and strategy. VTT wants to see FIMECC succeed. 32

The first FIMECC programmes and projects were launched in 2009. These so-called first generation programmes will be completed between 2013 and 2014. Although SHOK programmes typically require 5 to 10 years to proceed from research into business, some excellent and interesting results have already been realised and adopted by the industry. Since this is a VTT publication, it is natural to showcase FIMECC’s achievements from VTT’s point of view and focus on VTT’s achievements. Wireless module for condition monitoring The InterSync project managed by VTT is one of the main projects in FIMECC’s EFFIMA (Energy efficiency of machines) programme. Among the key deliveries of the project is a matchbox-sized VTT Node measurement module (see Figure 2), which can be connected to sensors that measure the condition (such as vibration, tension and temperature) of machines, processes and devices. While a large number of measurements are carried out, only a small portion is relevant to condition monitoring. Preprocessing and preliminary assessment of the measurement signals near the measuring point by the measurement module must be possible, to ensure that only relevant data is transferred further. However, measurement points are often in areas that are difficult to access. It is often challenging or impossible to introduce cables for data and power transfer. This is why VTT Node operates wirelessly. In practice, applications consist of several VTT Nodes that typically require different measurement combinations and perform radio communication with the base station. VTT Node also contains a small battery which harvests energy from the light, electric VTT IMPULSE – SCIENCE


Figure 1. Utilising radio technology, the distance measurement module can measure distances of up to 100 metres.

Figure 2. VTT Node collects signals from the condition monitoring sensors and transfers pertinent data wirelessly.

and magnetic fields, vibration or temperature gradients available in its environment. Since such locally-available energy sources are limited, the sufficiency of electricity is based on efficient energy management, but principally on the fact that the node spends most of its time in a sleep mode with very low energy consumption. VTT Node only wakes up to process signals and forward them when necessary, spending less than 1 per cent of its runtime to do this. In fact, VTT Node is a small, wireless measurement computer. In addition to sensors, it contains large FPGA-based computing and memory resources, as well as efficient energy and data traffic management modules. Additional modules can be introduced to expand the basic features of VTT Node. Since measurement points and applications vary greatly, we develop new technologies continuously to make VTT Nodes more customisable. This can be done directly from the high-level design environments or environments such as Matlab, which are typically used by researchers and industry R&D operations. Wireless and energy-autonomous sensors and data networks enable more reliable and cost-efficient collection of data from machines and devices – worldwide. VTT IMPULSE – SCIENCE

VTT Node’s battery harvests energy from light, electric and magnetic fields and vibration.

Easy to install and practically maintenance-free, the sensors take the online condition monitoring of devices, machines and processes to a completely new level. They enable large-scale predictive condition monitoring and optimised maintenance of large numbers of machines. With new technologies, cost-efficient monitoring can cover areas critical to reliable operation in the machinery and process industry, such as bearings, gearboxes, valves and steel structures. Enterprises can develop new kinds of business models for highly refined service business. When data is communicated globally, the company can centralise its remote monitoring operations to the location with best expertise in the field, no matter where customers are based. 33


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Tolkku algorithm library supports maintenance Condition monitoring measurements are a must for effective condition monitoring. Based on the measurement data, it is possible to establish real-time data on fault or defect mechanisms, as well as an accurate diagnosis of their seriousness, and even reliable prognosis on the future capacity and condition of the machine. To achieve this, we need to understand the nature of defects and faults, code this understanding into algorithms, and communicate the results of the resulting calculations to machine operators or maintenance personnel. Good planning promotes good condition monitoring. Despite best efforts, the behaviour of machines, devices and components that are under heavy workload or used under very demanding conditions may be unpredictable. This makes measurements or observations invaluable. Condition monitoring is often also experience-based. Knowledge and understanding of each individual machine and machine type is accumulated over time based on tests, pilots and, for the most part, service life. Modern condition monitoring systems must be able to enhance their operation as more information is accumulated.

The Tolkku library helps analyse the condition of machines and processes.

The Tolkku algorithm library developed by VTT and its project partners (see Figure 3) contains a representative collection of modules for measurement data collection, data preprocessing, further processing to calculate significant characteristics, recognition of the state of the machine or device, consideration of load profiles, recognition of faults or deviations, calculation of interdependencies, and frequency analysis, as well as condition management packages for standard components, such as bearings and gearboxes. With the Tolkku library it is possible to analyse the target process, recognise inappropriate use, and predict remaining service life, which is important for maintenance manage-

Tolkku toolbox

Company CBM platform

Data packets

Load and use history

Fault analysis

Service

Early indication of faults

Remaining useful life

Fault analysis

Similar earlier cases

Optimisation of maintenance plans

Data base Case base

Improved machine design

Figure 3. The Tolkku algorithm library helps situation-specific planning of maintenance tasks.

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Figure 4. Virtual technologies provide an illustrative representation of the work machine’s dynamic risks.

ment. Based on these analyses, maintenance tasks can be planned in an optimised manner and with consideration to situation-specific factors; for example, machine operators can be asked to take extra care when operating a particular machine. Accurate remote sensing in tight spots As workplace automation increases, measurement of distances between humans and machines or between machines is increasingly important. Awareness of the location of humans and machines is important for work area safety and the autonomy of machines and machine groups. With the development of mobile phones, GPS has emerged as a popular positioning technology. However, GPS is often not suitable for work machine applications. Firstly, its accuracy is typically in the range of few metres. Secondly, GPS requires line-of-sight communication with a GPS satellite. This means that GPS positioning does not work indoors. The WiFi or ZigBee positioning technologies commonly used in telecommunications overcome some of these problems, but their accuracy is not very good due to their narrow frequency band. VTT has developed a wideband radio technology (500 MHz frequency band, mean frequency 4 GHz) distance measurement module (see Figure 1), that achieves sufficient accuracy in applications such as cranes and positioning and distance measurements in ports. The module can measure distances of up to 100 metres. VTT IMPULSE – SCIENCE

The use of wideband is an effective way of eliminating the so-called multipath problem that makes positioning challenging indoors: measurement waves travel not only directly between the measurement points, but are also reflected by metal surfaces that are typical in industrial environments, making measurements less reliable. Simulations improve safety Finnish mobile work machines are an engineering success story. They are increasingly versatile, complex and often wholly or partly autonomic. Modern machine environments, such as warehouses and ports, will in the future consist of increasingly autonomic work machine groups or fleets. As work machines develop, site safety has become an important competitive factor. Up until recently, site safety has been addressed simply by blocking human access, or, if humans appear in the machine work area or safety zone, by stopping the operation of the machine.

Wideband distance measurement module overcomes the multipath problem.

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File: Olli Ventä

Figure 5. The principle of changing work machine danger zones dynamically during work.

Simulation improves safety in sites shared by humans and autonomic work machines.

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The new capabilities and increasing autonomy of machines can help improve safety by means such as simplifying or slowing down the operations of the machine or reducing the vehicle speed. In most cases, it is not necessary to stop the machine nor operations on the site. Instead, with increased cooperation between humans and the machines, work on the site can become more enjoyable and effective. Site risk analysis should nevertheless be enhanced by making it more dynamic so that it can change according to the status of the site. Both humans and machines must be managed adaptively, according to potential situation-specific risks and their prevention. Development of safety management is challenging with physical machines and in changing environments and situations. VTT’s virtual technical environments can provide effective and comprehensive analyses of safe human-machine cooperation concepts and their development, as well as test machine operations from the safety point of view. An automated machine safety system calculates time- and location-specific danger zones continuously and automatically directs machines to move to eliminate risks. The system also informs humans about safe work zones.

Dr. Olli Ventä joined VTT in 1990, soon after acquiring his D.Sc.(Tech) degree from Helsinki University of Technology. Throughout the 2000s, he has both prepared and managed research programmes, most important of which are the Tekes intelligent automation systems programme (2001–2004) and three VTT spearhead programmes (Intelligent Products and Systems, Complex Systems Design and e-Engineering). Another important responsibility area has been the preparation of FIMECC and TIVIT programmes. Other key personnel in the examples provided in this article include Ismo Vessonen (EFFIMA programme manager), Pirkka Tukeva (VTT Node), Mikko Lehtonen (Tolkku algorithm library), Timo Lehikoinen (distance measurement) and Risto Tiusanen (simulation enhances safety). VTT IMPULSE – SCIENCE


T E C H N O LO GY

Pages

38–58 VTT IMPULSE – TECHNOLOGY

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KEY TERMS biocomposite, plastic biobarrier, PGA plastic KEY PERSONS Jussi Aine, Ali Harlin KEY MESSAGE Food and other packaging shifting to bio-based materials. V TT CONTACTS ali.harlin@vtt.fi MORE INFORMATION www.vtt.fi, www.puustellimiinus.fi

Text Marjo Kosonen Photos Antonin Halas, Timo Kauppila, Indav and Puustelli

Revolutionary

BIOMATERIALS New bioplastics are not only environmentally friendly, but they also have many superior characteristics.

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B

io-based materials are rapidly

making a strong appearance in everyday lives. “The amount of ham consumed by a typical four-person family can be packaged in materials manufactured from five kilograms of oil, or 800 grams of sugar,” VTT’s Research Professor Ali Harlin explains. The industry has been keen to find sustainable alternatives to plastic, which is reliant on oil production. Five per cent of the world’s crude oil production is consumed by the production of plastics. Approximately 40 per cent of all plastics are used in packaging, which puts special pressure on the packaging industry to reduce its dependence on oil. One method of doing so, and reducing the carbon footprint attributable to consumption, is to replace the plastic in food packaging with materials manufactured from renewable materials. Such as bio­plastics, for example. Development never stops

According to life cycle analyses, carbon dioxide emissions from bio-based plastics can be as much as 70 per cent lower than from oil-based plastics. And that’s not all. “The newly developed plastic biobarrier is not only environmentally friendly but also has several superior qualities compared to conventional plastic packaging. Barrier materials have the ability to prevent molecules from penetrating the packaging, which means that only small amounts of oxygen and water can penetrate the plastic. Food remains fresh longer in this kind of modified atmosphere package,” Ali Harlin explains. “There’s no point in returning to a less appealing alternative.” To complicate matters, the supply of raw materials for renewable and recyclable biomaterials is not inexhaustible. And there are other takers. “According to estimates, the world requires 50 per cent more food, 45 per cent more energy and 30 per cent more water in 2030. At the same time, the environment is setting limits for growth. The most

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Bio this and bio that will not solve the problem alone. What will solve it is effective bioeconomy. critical natural resources are food, energy, soil, forest resources and water, as well as certain minerals.” Careful consideration is necessary in deciding how each resource is to be used and for what purpose. Raw materials that are suitable to be consumed as food should be reserved primarily for food production. After all, packages are manufactured for food, not the other way around. “We are seeking solutions that utilise resources as fully as possible. These solutions must be sustainable in terms of the environment, economy and society. Bio this and bio that will not solve the problem alone. What will solve this is effective bioeconomy,” says Harlin. Bioeconomy refers to a low-carbon and energy-efficient society which is based on the use of renewable natural resources and recyclable materials. Its polar opposite is the current fossil fuel based economy. Bioeconomy is thoroughly sustainable and environment-minded – small-scale green thinking cannot provide tangible results.

The promised land of biological raw materials

When it comes to biological raw materials, Finland has them in abundance. Sustainable use of forests could be almost doubled by growing 30 to 40 million cubic metres of forests. In addition to cellulose, forests can be a source of hemicellulose and lignin. All have versatile applications. Cellulose can be recycled to manufacture textile fibres. Nanocellulose, or cellulose that is nano- or microfibrillated, can be used to produce a fully biodegradable and antistatic material, similar to the one used in fruit bags. The material can be used, for example, as a substrate for printed electronics. “We have a lot to learn about hemicellulose, which is located between cellulose and lignin in the cell wall. It can be used in the manufacture of biobarrier materials that can prevent fat or oxygen molecules from permeating the package. This is of great benefit, because the film protects the product against contamination or oxidation.

”Careful consideration is required in deciding how each resource is to be used and for what purpose,” Ali Harlin says.

Xylan or hemicellulose extracted from birch can be used to manufacture new types of thermoplastics, such as heatsealable barrier films or transparent films for plastic cups, as well as blister packs.

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PGA plastic suitable for food packaging

Fibre-based packaging with a transparent window.

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VTA BIO-BASED COMPOSITE packaging material developed by VTT reduces the use of oil in packaging from 100 to 15 per cent. The new material makes it possible to replace plastic with fibre products in modified atmosphere packaging. “The new PGA plastic can be manufactured from recycled paper, wood or even straw. All plant-based biomasses are suitable for use as the basic raw material,” says VTT Research Professor Ali Harlin. The method developed by VTT makes the manufacture of the PGA monomer, or glycolic acid, more efficient. Compared with currently used barriers, PGA plastic is of much better quality. Thanks to its good barrier properties, it is particularly well suited for the storage and transport of food. PGA is an effective oxygen and water barrier, keeping the food from spoiling in a protective atmosphere. PGA plastic is between 20 and 30 per cent stronger than PLA – the most popular biodegradable plastic on the market – and able to withstand temperatures 20 degrees Celsius higher. It also breaks down more quickly than PLA, but its biodegradability can be regulated if necessary. It must be expensive to manufacture a material that has all these superior qualities? Ali Harlin admits that the manufacture of PGA plastic is around 10 to 20 per cent more expensive than oilbased plastics. But he is quick to point out that expenses are relative. Better performance compensates for the higher price. “High-quality packaging performance is worth paying extra for. Each package also requires less PGA than ordinary plastic, which reduces the overall cost.” Packaging can be up to 35 to 40 per cent lighter when PGA barriers are used with flexible board. It will take a few years before PGA-based plastic packaging ends up in consumers’ hands. According to Harlin, PGA should be commercially available within five years. VTT is currently negotiating on the applications of the material with the food industry, for example.

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Hemicellulose can also be used as material for flexible and viscous films, as well as absorbent hydrogels,” Ali Harlin says. VTT has developed several applications for lignin, such as thermoformable mixtures that can be used instead of plastic, and pine acid lignin dispersions suitable for dispersion coating. Saviour for the paper industry?

Bioplastics create new opportunities for the Finnish forestry industry, as global packaging markets are expected to enter a period of new growth led by countries such as China and India. Ethical consumer habits and legislative developments steer the industry towards sustainable development. The overall market volume is estimated to be some 500 billion euros. Today, bioplastics account for only one per cent of plastic production.

“Once every 50 to 70 years we advance to the next square on the board. Perhaps this is one of those moments? Finland has ample cellulose resources and our cellulose is relatively sustainable in comparison with forests or fields in rainforest areas, for example. Cellulose is not suitable for use as food, so it does not disturb the food chain. Finland also has capacity, as there may still be more cellulose factories facing closure.” Harlin emphasises that one solution does not fit all purposes. “We need to be flexible in both thought and action. Small steps can bring great results. For example, one third of the bottles used by the soft drink giant Coca-Cola are made from PET, a plastic manufactured from sugar. It is setting a small but visible example for others to follow.” 

A kitchen with a reduced carbon footprint PUUSTELLI IS INTRODUCING ecological, biocomposite-based kitchen furniture. The Puustelli Miinus kitchen’s carbon footprint is up to 50 per cent smaller than that of a conventional kitchen. Manufactured from a new biocomposite, the new kitchen is, on average, 200 kilograms lighter than current kitchens. This reduces emissions during transport. The Finnish company started to develop the new kitchen more than three years ago. “We had a vision of kitchen furniture that would be significantly more environmentally friendly than plywood-based products. This was brought on by the global megatrend of eco-friendly thinking,” says Puustelli Group’s CEO Jussi Aine. Puustelli invited VTT to the project as the technical development partner. “We were already familiar with VTT. We knew of their expertise and visionary thinking with regard to biocomposites.” Various bio-based raw materials, their different combinations and carbon footprints were tested and compared in laboratory conditions. The wood technology laboratory of Aalto University also participated in material development. Biocomposite emerged as the best material, consisting of 60 per cent polypropene and 40 per cent

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The timeless Puustelli biocomposite kitchens are designed by Professor Juhani Salovaara.

wood fibre. The mix tolerates great variations in temperature, from -25 degrees up to +90 degrees centigrade. The recyclable UPM ForMi biocomposite has other benefits. “The light-weight kitchen carcases are injection moulded. Thanks to their construction, they can be dismantled and re-erected several times. The kitchens are built to last at least 30 years. Water resistance is also a big plus in a kitchen,” Jussi Aine points out. The new kitchen furniture will be commercially available in the early summer. Puustelli aims to generate one third of its 75 million euro turnover from the sale of the new type of kitchen furniture.

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Once every 50 to 70 years we advance to the next square on the board. Perhaps this is one of those moments?

Three strategies to increase sustainability

1. Efficient use of resources (materials, energy, water) in industrial processes

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2. Use of alternative raw materials and reuse of materials

3. New commercial models or industrial and consumer ecosystems

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KEY TERMS low carbon society, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon capture and storage (CCS), renewable energy KEY PERSONS Tiina Koljonen, Lassi Similä, Kai Sipilä KEY MESSAGE V T T’s strategic Low Carbon Finland 2050 project established three low carbon scenarios that enable Finland to reach the EU greenhouse gas emission target. VTT CONTACT tiina.koljonen@vtt.fi MORE INFORMATION www.vtt.fi

The EU has set a target of keeping the average global temperature rise below 2 degrees centigrade. 44

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Text Harriet Öster Illustration Jutta Suksi

Low-carbon Finland is not an easy target Establishing a low carbon society will require hard work. The way we produce and use energy has to be overhauled, we will also need to consider the competitiveness of our industry.

V

TT has established three optional paths towards low carbon society in the Low Carbon Finland 2050 report published last autumn. The report combines ideas and assessment of development in Finland by VTT’s researchers who specialise in different research fields. The Government Institute for Economic Research (VATT) also participated in the work by assessing the effect of the low carbon scenarios on national economy. The research results are presented in three scenarios, which serve as discussion entries for decision-makers. The roadmap that will make Finland a low carbon society by 2050 is currently being drafted. According to the EU roadmap for moving to a low carbon economy, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by at least 80 per cent by 2050 compared to the 1990 level. This reduction is necessary to keep Europe on the agreed development path towards achieving an average global temperature rise of below 2 degrees centigrade. Finland cannot reach the low carbon target without cooperation by all sectors that produce and consume energy. According to the best case scenario, Finland might be able to trade emission rights and sell clean energy. “To be able to do this, we need more advanced carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. Unless energy production can be based increasingly on nuclear power, we cannot completely eliminate the use of coal. In this case, CCS will be required in energy production and particularly in metal industries,” says Kai Sipilä, Vice President, Strategic Research, Energy at VTT.

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“On the other hand, if CCS is also sustainable with regard to biofuels, carbon dioxide emissions become negative, i.e., carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere.” Support for VTT’s internal planning

“We used VTT’s self-financed research to combine our research scientists’ scenarios and ideas at this early stage, and wanted to include bravely different suggestions and ideas to emphasise the gap between action and non-action,” Sipilä explains. “It takes time to develop new technologies and deploy them on a large scale. In this respect, 2050 is just around the corner, and we must act now. A base load power plant is a large investment, and will be in production for between 40 to 60 years.” Low Carbon Finland 2050 is also VTT’s strategic research project, which will support VTT’s internal long-term planning. “What makes the project unusual is its large scope. However, the return on investment has been manifold in terms of new ideas, VTT’s operational focus, and influence over the coming years. Thanks to the project, VTT is better prepared for implementing the required changes,” Sipilä says.

The Low Carbon Finland 2050 research started with the assumption that Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions meet the official EU 2020 targets. Development after 2020 was modelled by means of establishing three different scenarios, or paths. In all of them, emissions are reduced by at least 80 per cent by 2050. “We have discussed development from the technology and service point of view and calculated the effects of the scenarios on our national energy economy. A main driver is the price of emission rights, which is calculated based on the global climate target. This was the only political boundary condition we took into account,” Sipilä says. The structure of society is significant

The work started with the definition of three scenarios that were described by means of societal visions. The scenarios establish different structures for community and industry, as well as transport systems. Another difference is in the permitted number of new nuclear reactors for producing energy. In the Inno (short for “Innovation”) scenario, technological development is progressing strongly; welfare is based on the commercial-

Three scenarios and a “bomb” SOME 50 VTT experts participated in the creation of the three scenarios specified in the Low Carbon Finland 2050 project that was launched in summer 2010. “The core group consisted of scientists representing different research fields who had previous experience of similar projects. They expanded the group further through their own networks,” says VTT’s Research Scientist Lassi Similä, who was responsible for organising the practical project tasks. VTT organised some seminars and the experts also worked in smaller teams. Schedules had to be adhered to even though all participants tend to be very busy. Calculations were based on the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) world energy model. VATT used its own national economy model.

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The work continues in the Low Carbon Finland 2050 Platform project, which is part of the Tekes Green Growth programme. The project is coordinated by VTT, and other participants include four research institutes VATT, the Finnish Forest Research Institute (METLA) and the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK). The project is steered by four ministries and Tekes. The project seeks to broaden the scope by discussing sustainable resource use, structural changes in society and effects of control measures. “We have also initiated calculations for the so-called Pommi (“Bomb” in English) scenario in which things do not go as planned with regard to energy and climate,” says Principal Scientist Tiina Koljonen.

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We wanted to include bravely different suggestions and ideas.

isation and export of new products and services. The population lives in denser urban areas and traffic is very energy-efficient. In the Tonni (“Tonne” in English) scenario, only minor changes take place in the structure of Finnish industry and community. Production volumes of energy-intensive industry grow, and product offering remains similar to today’s. Emissions are mainly reduced by means of currently available technologies. In the Onni (“Happiness” in English) scenario, production volumes of energy-intensive industry are much reduced and the community structure is much more dispersed. The number of small, innovative service companies is much higher than today. Decoupling of economy and emissions

“The Tonni and Inno scenarios are very different when it comes to technology, but similar in terms of their impact on the economy. Product volumes of forest industry are significantly lower in the Inno scenario, but the value of new products increases,” says VTT’s Principal Scientist Tiina Koljonen, who coordinated the Low Carbon Finland 2050 project. In the Inno scenario, emissions are significantly lower from energy production, building sector and transport. However, Tonni requires significantly higher investments in the energy system. This is because of the higher level of energy-intensive industry and the emission reductions required. “Onni is so different that we have not calculated its economic impact at this stage because it would have required a lot more work. In Onni, society lets industry production fall and seeks happiness outside materialistic values,” Koljonen explains. VTT IMPULSE – TECHNOLOGY

“It is important that the development of greenhouse gas emissions is decoupled from GDP development. By comparing today’s situation to 1990, we can see that energy production is already starting to become decoupled from GDP. Fuel prices are higher and all sectors have become more energy efficient,” Koljonen points out. More electricity from combined heat and power production

The share of renewable energy from primary energy production in 2050 is around 50 per cent in all three scenarios. The basic assumption in the Inno scenario is strong technological development. Energy production is diversified and energy efficiency improves. The share of wind power in particular is higher. The share of solar power also increases, but it will be of significance in only a limited number of locations. “Inno is based on the assumption that two of the approved nuclear power projects are implemented. “In Tonni, electricity demand of industry is higher and that’s why the construction of a third nuclear plant was allowed to replace the phasing out of old capacities in 2030-2050,” Koljonen says. Use of fossil fuels is reduced, but they are still used in 2050 by large cities’ combined heat and power plants and transport. “Around the year 2040, emissions have reduced to an extent that make the marginal cost of reaching the required 80 per cent reduction without CCS very high. In this model, carbon dioxide is transported via a pipeline or by ship from Finland to a storage location, such as saline aquifiers below the seabed sediments,” Koljonen says. “Inno also has a new low-temperature district heating system where combined heat and power plants will produce significantly more electricity. Energy-efficient buildings require less heating, so it makes sense to lower the outgoing water temperature,” says Koljonen.  47


KEY TERMS intelligent traffic, Internet of Things (IoT), bioeconomy, waste and water management KEY PERSONS Heikki Ailisto, Mona Arnold, Jussi Manninen, Nils-Olof Nylund KEY MESSAGE V T T promotes multidisciplinary breakthroughs and comprehensive solutions. V TT CONTACT heikki.ailisto@vtt.fi, mona.arnold@vtt.fi, jussi.manninen@vtt.fi, nils-olof.nylund@vtt.fi MORE INFORMATION www.vtt.fi/programmes

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Text Paula Bergqvist Photos Antonin Halas, Juha Sarkkinen, Stockphoto

Smart mobility, Internet of Things, bioeconomy, and waste and water management – VTT’s four spearhead programmes all address significant future challenges.

Multidisciplinary solutions for the grand challenges

V 

TT promotes Finnish competitiveness and seeks solutions for important future challenges, such as changing population structure and climate change. Through its spearhead programmes, VTT promotes multidisciplinary breakthroughs and comprehensive solutions. VTT launched three new spearhead programmes at the beginning of 2013: Productivity Leap with Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Mobility Integrated with Low Carbon Energy, and Bioeconomy Transformation. The GWW - Green Solutions for Water and Waste programme has already reached its midpoint.

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Towards the Internet of Things

O

n ce devices and services be-

gin to communicate with each other, practices and business will be transformed in many sectors, such as healthcare, energy transfer, logistics, traffic, and real estate maintenance. “Modern technologies are advanced, but the lack of agreement about common architectures slows development. We still have to wait a little longer, for example, for network solutions that control household safety systems, air conditioning and locking, and that read electricity meters,” says VTT’s Research Professor Heikki Ailisto. Service innovations and improved productivity

The Productivity Leap with Internet of Things (IoT) programme focuses on improved effi-

“By combining ICT and electronics technologies with other solutions we can, for example, improve utilisation rates or optimise maintenance tasks,” says Heikki Ailisto.

ciency in the use of company assets, such as machine and equipment. The programme does not intend to develop ICT and electronic technologies, but seeks to combine them with other solutions. This will help improve utilisation rates, optimise maintenance tasks, or design optimal smart lighting solutions possessing maximum energy efficiency. “Internet of Things (IoT) also addresses housing solutions: water consumption management, efficient use of materials, smart lighting solutions and heat management. We are also working on healthcare solutions that promote home-based care of the elderly, for example,” Ailisto explains. Heikki Ailisto believes that the first spinoffs from the programme will emerge within the next few years. He sees opportunities for small enterprises in areas such as intelligent lighting, and machine and transport sectors. “The programme serves worldwide machine, equipment and transport equipment manufacturers that are interested in service business. The market value is measured in billions,” he adds. IoT technologies can also improve productivity. ICT, IT and electronics are means for achieving desired objectives. Ailisto and his research team focus on solutions such as remote control of machinery and equipment, predictive maintenance, and smart lighting solutions that utilise sensors and telecommunications. The smart lighting project seeks energy-efficient solutions and an enhanced user experience that is based on digitally controlled LEDs. “This project allows us to combine our expertise in ICT, microelectronics and printed intelligence,” says Ailisto. 

The lack of a common architecture agreement is slowing the development of the Internet of Things. 50

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Smarter traffic systems

I

n transport the focus is already on the 2050 tar-

gets: a highly efficient and sustainable transport system. The greenhouse gas emission targets set by the EU for 2050 require more energy-efficient vehicles and traffic modes in passenger and freight transport, as well as the introduction of low-carbon energy forms. We must also curb the trend towards increasing traffic volumes. VTT is seeking solutions for these areas in the Smart Mobility Integrated with Low Carbon Energy spearhead programme that combines VTT’s expertise in vehicles, traffic systems, traffic services, fuels and infrastructures. “Smart traffic helps introduce more effective transport services and reduce unnecessary travel,” Research Professor Nils-Olof Nylund points out. In the future, housing, transport and energy production will become integrated. This requires smart solutions. “We need to introduce big changes. Fine-tuning vehicles is not enough. Instead, we must rethink the entire system. VTT has decided to develop a systemic approach that combines energy, ICT and traffic services,” Nylund explains. “Finnish industry has the opportunity to emerge as a leader in this area.” Focus on heavy vehicles and work machines

“The objectives set by the EU and the Finnish government for traffic in 2020 must be implemented in a smart and cost-effective way. At the same time, we should consider new business opportunities. Biofuels are a good example of this,” says Nylund.

The entire traffic system needs to be revamped. The development of electric vehicles is advancing all over the world. “A suitable area for Finland is the development of heavy-duty electric vehicles, buses and work machines. At VTT, we focus on commercial vehicles.” According to Nylund, we are not yet on the path to sustainable development. How do we get there? “We must combine our expertise in vehicle and fuel technologies, low-carbon energy, transport services and logistics. We need a new approach in which we gradually move from suboptimisation towards the big picture and system integration.” Nylund estimates that Finland is doing reasonably well with regard to obtaining the 2020 objectives. Industry is already investing in biofuels, which is a promising development. The fact that the vehicle fleet in Finland is quite old is a challenge, though. “A total of 100,000 vehicles were sold in 2012, but a renewal of the vehicle base would have required 150,000 new vehicles. The 2050 objectives are a significant challenge for Finland and everyone else. The entire traffic system needs to be revolutionised.” 

“Renewal of the Finnish vehicle fleet would have required 150,000 new vehicles last year,” Nils-Olof Nylund points out.

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Jussi Manninen contributes to the project that is looking for new ways of combining biotechnology with electronics.

We are trying to identify wildly different ideas.

The goal: bioeconomy

T

he shift to bioeconomy will not be

possible without significant changes, which may also provide new business opportunities for Finnish companies. Principal Scientist Jussi Manninen promises that customer benefits will already start to emerge during the lifetime of the Bioeconomy Transformation programme. Bioeconomy refers to a future industrial sector created out of biomass refining. Characteristics of the sector include resource efficiency, maximisation of value added, recycling, tight integration into energy production, and a capacity for cross-sector innovation. Manninen points out that some 40 per cent of VTT’s research is related to bioeconomy, of which a quarter at most is included in the programme. Programmes such as large bioenergy programmes fall outside the bioeconomy programme. Biomass is versatile

The programme seeks new production chains to improve the efficiency of biomass utilisation. Textiles are an interesting application, and VTT is finalising advanced technologies in this area. Possible applications include hygiene and hospital products, as well as clothing industry which can use the new products instead of 52

cotton. Fully bio-based packaging is another promising area. Another set of projects focuses on agriculture. “Our current food chain requires significantly more sustainable solutions that improve resource efficiency by utilising production side streams for packaging materials, for example,” says Manninen. A third programme objective is to develop the production system from raw material to final product. “How are we controlling production and logistics? Is device development required? Can field-side production be integrated into a larger production chain? Does Finland have mechanical engineering companies that can produce suitable equipment?” The fourth set of projects in the programme – synthetic biology – looks beyond the other programmes towards next-generation production. “We are trying to identify wildly different ideas which may prove important in the future. For example, we are trying to see what can emerge if we combine biotechnology with electronics,” Manninen explains. The projects also identify business models and value networks that are required to promote bioeconomy. Economic viability of new ideas must also be considered.  VTT IMPULSE – TECHNOLOGY


“Waste recycling, efficient use of materials and water recycling technologies are businesses of the future,” says Mona Arnold.

Effective flow of waste and water

A

vailability of clean water will be

one of the main future problems in the world. Future societies and industries, and material-intensive industries in particular, require energy-saving, effective waste water technologies and new methods of utilising waste. Monitoring of waste and water flows must also be improved to enable quick decision-making. The objective of the GWW - Green Solutions for Water and Waste programme is zero emissions. The programme operations are divided into water technologies, waste recycling, and monitoring and modelling tools that improve resource efficiency. According to VTT’s Principal Scientist Mona Arnold, the programme contents, i.e. waste recycling, efficient use of materials and water recycling technologies, are businesses of the future. “By linking and combining VTT’s strengths in the water and recycling sector, such as biotechnology, modelling, sensor technologies and energy expertise, we can develop globally competitive solutions,” she says. The programme is well linked with VTT’s other programmes, such as an innovation programme that is developing measurement and sensing technologies from the microchip level to applications and products. Adoption in the future

The commercial stages of the programme that seeks to add depth to VTT’s expertise still lie ahead. “We have proceeded to advanced stages with a biotechnology that recovers metals from waste materials in the mining, metals and recycling industries. Mining and metals companies have tested our method in their waste manageVTT IMPULSE – TECHNOLOGY

The objective is a society with zero emissions.

ment and the results are promising,” says Mona Arnold. The method is based on using microbes to recover valuable minerals from the waste. According to Arnold, the technology will be ready for use within the next couple of years. VTT has also developed an indicator for identifying small but harmful contents of substances, such as blue algae toxins and phenolic compounds. This technology is ready for production in the next few years. Arnold mentions water membrane filtration as an example of VTT’s expertise. “Membrane filtration is a highly competitive research topic. VTT’s expertise is linked to making filtration more energy efficient.”  53


KEY TERMS economic growth, competence development, specialisation KEY PERSONS Erkki KM Leppävuori, Jorma Turunen KEY MESSAGE Finland should seek economic growth from new sectors and through specialisation. VTT CONTACT erkki.leppavuori@vtt.fi MORE INFORMATION www.teknologiateollisuus.fi, www.vtt.fi

Towards growth in a stalling economy Text Paula Bergqvist Photos Vesa Tyni

The European economy is struggling, and industrial production in Finland is undergoing a structural change. Even so, Jorma Turunen of the Federation of Technology Industries in Finland and Erkki KM Leppävuori of VTT see opportunities for future growth. 54

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Jorma Turunen, CEO of the Federation of Technology Industries in Finland:

Energy-efficiency is our asset The structural change of industrial operations in Europe is hitting Finnish companies especially hard. Subcontractors at the lower end of the refining chain are struggling. The challenges faced by the Nokia cluster have a negative impact on the state’s balance of payments and current account. How­ever, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and all main Finnish industries are renewing themselves. The challenging situation of Nokia, mechanical engineering and metal industry has created a large void. New and growing sectors have not yet managed to counterbalance it. From mining to diagnostics and gaming

I have faith in mining and processing of metals in Finland. The Agnico Eagle Mines gold mine that operates in Kittilä in Northern Finland is a good example of this. It is an important contributor to the economy, both in terms of employment and tax revenue. It is important to raise the degree of refining, because the sulphur directive will increase transport costs. Finland also has top cleantech expertise, and the value of exports in the sector can amount to billions of euros. Energy-efficiency is a special strength of ours, and one way or another about half of our cleantech exports are based on this. This is only natural considering that we live in a country where energy-efficiency is a key consideration in everything we do. Health technology is another sector with great opportunities. Advances in self-diagnosis are necessary simply because of the ageing of population and increasing demand for public services. Healthcare needs to undergo some structural changes to ensure sufficient personnel numbers. In gaming, Finnish games hold top positions among the most popular downloads. This is another very promising sector. ICT provides opportunities for increasing productivity and doing away with the physical distance between people and countries. Finland is far from its main markets, at least two hours by air. Of our exports, 75 per cent go to Europe, about 50 to EU Member States. Another interesting opportunity besides productivity is the ICT-enabled role as a business model provider for conventional sectors. VTT IMPULSE – TECHNOLOGY

Operating model from Sweden?

The strength of the Swedish export industry lies in its extensive portfolio. The industry also has a lot of capital, which allows it to invest in R&D. Sweden is also a model student when it comes to the commercialisation of service business, due to a deep understanding of customer needs. Finland’s strength lies in producing special products based on our technology expertise. Salary levels are similar in Finland and Sweden, but salary formation is more flexible in Sweden. This flexibility encourages investment. Entry to the Russian market?

Finland benefits from the fact that we are close to Russia, and many Finnish companies have already entered the market successfully. I would also like to see large enterprises establish offices in Helsinki, close to the Russian market. Finnish software competence has a lot to offer to the developing Moscow region, in terms of Internet services, for example. It is a large market, the size of the city of New York. Specialisation is the key to future success

To succeed in the future, we need to specialise, which often requires the ability to combine different technologies. Manufacturing in Finland is burdened by high labour costs, which means that we need to achieve a higher level of automation. Finland is best suited to the manufacture of highly-refined products in limited numbers. Operational environment

To succeed in business, companies must be able to provide added value and operate in a competitive environment. As it is, the competitiveness of Finnish companies’ operating environment leaves a lot to be desired. It is not all bad news, however. Finland has highly educated employees, an effective innovation system and well-established cooperation between the public and private sectors. If we decide to focus on niche business, we should educate and train employees for this purpose. At the moment, our education resources are too dispersed. Investing in high-tech business is more profitable than investing in manufacturing industry, where labour costs are high. Energy and logistics are also not cheap in Finland. Finnish corporate and company taxation is not competitive. Due to its high personal tax rates, Finland is not an appealing option for international experts. Export industry has lost deals to Estonia, which is agile.  55


President and CEO Erkki KM Leppävuori, VTT:

It pays to break down barriers Competitiveness of manufacturing industry depends on development of profitability. Manufacturing will continue in Finland, but we must improve its profitability. ICT applications have a key role in improving the profitability of conventional mechanical engineering. When production costs are high, it is important to seek further automation. We also need to specialise and provide added value with regard to products. Products can be special also in terms of their manufacturing method. When considering automation, it is good to remember that human hands are often more dynamic than robots that can cost millions of euros. I believe in the opportunities of the mineral cluster. It will learn from its recent problems, and can use the acquired knowledge to its advantage and be an example to others. We must find a bal­ ance whereby industrial operations are profitable and sustainable. Over the coming years, bioeconomy-related production will compensate for the decreased level of exports from the conventional forest and paper industry. However, it may need another five years to reach significant production volumes. Cleantech has great potential for growth in Finland. Renewable energy forms have been discussed at length. More work is still required with regard to the development and deployment of different forms of bioenergy in Finland. EU regulation may cause new challenges that limit the use of our forest resources in the manufacture of biofuels. Chemicals industry has emerged strong; export­ ing more than the forestry sector. Many people may find this surprising, because chemicals have not been considered to have great potential here. Nuclear energy is a positive opportunity for Finland. It is a developing industry. Electricity 56

could be an important export product, but at the moment, Finland is not even self-sufficient. Breaking down the barriers between industries

We must rethink all industry sectors and break down the barriers between them: we must learn to think outside the clusters. Various sectors are increasingly using biotechnology and ICT, for example. Printed intelligence technologies provide many opportunities for a new kind of forest industry: future diagnostics products may even be manufactured by printing machines. The continuously operating pharmaceutical manufacturing pilot line that was taken into use in the PROMIS Centre in Kuopio in the spring is a prime example of such multi-technological applications. Looking forward, not backward

We should be bold and look for new opportunities. Success in some sectors is a thing of the past, and it makes no sense to support sectors artificially that do better elsewhere due to lower labour costs or market situations. We should look forward and focus our resources on new areas. Operating model from Sweden?

Sweden has traditionally been strong with regard to industrial tradition and active development. The operating culture is also different in Sweden. Swed­ish and Finnish companies work in close cooperation, but cooperation could be even closer in areas such as the production of base metals and energy. With regard to technological competence, Finland is the leader among the Nordic countries. Entry to Russian markets?

There is no denying the importance of Russia to Finland, and the best strategy is to enter the marVTT IMPULSE – TECHNOLOGY


New and growing sectors have not yet managed to counterbalance the void created by the challenging situation of Nokia and mechanical engineering.

”We should be bold and look for new opportunities,” Erkki KM Leppävuori emphasises.

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We could improve employment significantly by supporting healthy medium-sized companies.

ket through St. Petersburg. Some of the more remote former Soviet republics, such as the oil-rich Tatarstan, may provide new business opportunities for Finnish companies. Competence development through cooperation

The renewal of our universities is taking us in the right direction. Universities now operate in a more coordinated way, and co-operation between universities and research institutes has increased. We must create a business plan for Finland Ltd, and assess the requirements for our education and research providers. It is fortunate that we have generic training that provides a sound basis for various specialisations. What we should be aiming for 58

are virtual cooperation networks unencumbered by excessive bureaucracy. Small and medium-sized enterprises

Creation of new growth enterprises is a hot topic. It is also important, because of the inevitability of structural change in our economy. In discussions on support I would like to introduce the idea of supporting healthy medium-sized companies, because by doing this we can significantly improve the employment situation in Finland. What kind of network is required to support smart company renewal? The Dutch state supports companies by issuing vouchers which they can exchange for services from universities and research institutes. Would this solution work better than tax breaks in Finland? ď Ž VTT IMPULSE – TECHNOLOGY


BUSINESS OSAAMINEN JA UUSI TEKNOLOGIA

Pages

60–76 VTT IMPULSE – BUSINESS

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Anna Rissanen showcases a frame that contains a disc. The chips in the disc are wavelength filters.

Minute in size, optical microsensors are gaining ground in different applications in the pharmaceutical, food and automotive industries.

Microsensors for many applications Text Tiina Saario-Kuikko Photos Antonin Halas

M

icroelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, is one of the most rapidly emerging sensor technologies. Its strength lies in the possibility of manufacturing large quantities with low unit costs. Spectrometers perform material analyses and observations across many technologies. Conventional spectrometers are large and costly, which limits their application areas. Optical MEMS sensors are versatile 60

and suitable for different measurement applications. VTT’s optical MEMS sensor solutions are particularly suitable for process industry, automotive industry, environmental measurement, unmanned vehicles, and even space research applications. Other main development areas include readers for diagnostics tests and portable imaging systems. Benefits for the food industry

Food industry can also use optical microsensors to measure fat and protein conVTT IMPULSE – BUSINESS


Faster diagnoses

Jaakko Antila holds a “pen spectrometer” and a small MEMS hyper-spectral camera.

tents, for example, or the colour of fruit and vegetables. “The heart of the sensors developed by VTT is the so-called MEMS Fabry-Perot interferometer. This kind of chip filters the desired wavelengths of light can recognise certain chemicals or compounds in gases or liquids, for example,” explains Senior Scientist Jarkko Antila. Typically, a chip is only 3 x 3 x 0.5 mm in size, and the diameter of the optical window ranges from 0.5 to 2 mm. A miniaturised combination of wavelength filter and sensor acts as a very small spectrometer. Only a few commercial miniaturised spectrometer modules are available globally. In VTT’s production method, the entire MEMS Fabry-Perot component is built on one wafer, which keeps manufacturing costs down and allows the production of millions of units per year. In practice, the final price depends on the material and labour costs of packaging. Reduced emissions

The automotive industry is among those industries interested in MEMS because of the industry’s large manufacturing volumes, intense price pressures and the importance of reliable products. In vehicles, the technology can measure items such as exhaust gases, fuels and the monitoring and adjustment of air conditioning. VTT IMPULSE IMPULSSI – BUSINESS

VTT DEVELOPS SENSORS for biological measurements to make it easier to diagnose various illnesses. Sensitive sensors permit easy analysis of cell proteins and biomarker genes. Optical microsensors have already been used in spectral cameras, which in the future can be used to diagnose melanoma, for example. “The camera differentiates between different light wavelengths, and literally helps to see things in a new light. It enables us to identify tissue changes that cannot be observed with the naked eye,” says Senior Scientist Anna Rissanen. A few years from now, doctors may have the use of an express laboratory actually located on the prem­ ises. “In the future, doctors will be able to take saliva or blood samples from the patient and obtain test results immediately without sample processing or expensive laboratory equipment,” Rissanen believes. The ability to perform quick and reliable tests would be very useful in A&E environments, for example, when time is of the essence and it is important to start medication quickly.

Car manufacturers must also prepare for flexible use of several fuels, because the need to reduce emissions has led to an introduction of various fuels on the market, such as esterbased biodiesels and fuels containing ethanol. “A fuel sensor measures many qualities of the vehicle fuel. Measurement data helps protect the engine and optimise fuel and engine use, as well as reduce emissions,” Antila says. The data from the sensor can be analysed in real time, which means that the sensor acts like a miniaturised laboratory in the vehicle. Taking control of exhaust gases

With the new sensors, it is also possible to identify different gases, which improves safety at work and helps control emissions. Carbon dioxide is among the most measured gases, its level being used to determine optimised operation of, for example, air conditioning systems. In industry, it is also important to measure various hydrocarbon gases, in particular methane. “Methane gas is highly explosive. Monitoring can improve safety significantly in coal mines, oil rigs and oil refineries,” Antila points out.  61


Smooth sailing at sea and in port

While ships may sail smoothly and confidently on the open sea, they shake and rattle when turning in port. VTT and ABB Marine have worked together to tackle this problem. While doing so, they have also improved maritime safety, cost-efficiency and eco-friendliness.

Text Milka Lahnalammi-Vesivalo Photos ABB Marine

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The Azipod propulsion system consists of a unit that rotates 360 degrees around its vertical axis, and a propeller attached to it powered by an electric motor.

T

he Azipod® propulsion system is ABB Marine’s flagship product. Azipod improves manoeuvrability, saves fuel, reduces the risk of environmental damage, and is also quieter. The first commercial version entered the market in the 1990s, and the design of the later versions has become progressively slimmer and more streamlined. The latest versions allow critical component maintenance without docking the ship, which translates into significant cost savings for shipping companies.

This makes the system more robust than those with conventional power transmission and steering, in which the engine is located at the centre of the ship and a shaft connects it to the ship’s propeller. Each angle and connection means less power, but also makes the solution less robust. Thus, Azipod not only improves the propulsion efficiency but also the motor’s power transmission and the robustness of the ship’s steering system. In comparison with conventional solutions, Azipod also saves space inside the vessel’s hull.

More robust power transmission and steering

Manoeuvrability improves safety

“The development of Azipod was already under way in the 1980s when we needed to design a more robust power transmission and improved steering system for icebreakers,” says Jukka Varis, Vice President, Technology at ABB Marine. The first commercial Azipod unit was installed in the waterway service vessel Seili. In simple terms, the Azipod propulsion system consists of a unit that rotates 360 degrees around its vertical axis, and a propeller attached to it, powered by an electric motor. 64

A steerable propulsion unit makes it radically easier to steer the vessel in ports, for example, and allows the ship to come to a stop more rapidly by turning the propeller against the direction of movement. This improves maritime safety and reduces the risk of environmental damage. “Large ships take a long time, and travel a long distance, before they come to a complete stop. The Azipod unit significantly reduces the time and distance required. ”

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Compared to conventional ships, Azipod-equipped vessels have practically unlimited sideways propulsion.

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The electric motor is small in diameter, but has excellent torque.

Compared to conventional ships, Azipodequipped ships also have practically unlimited sideways propulsion, which improves manoeuvrability in ports. Testing in Fantasy cruise ships

More than a hundred ships already use the Azipod system, varying in size from the Suomenlinna ferry that operates in Helsinki to large tankers. The majority of Azipod systems nevertheless find their way into cruise ships. “A significant breakthrough were the Fantasy class cruise ships built in Helsinki. Some of the series had already been constructed with a conventional combination of electric propulsion motor and separate rudder, but the latest were equipped with the Azipod propulsion system,” Varis says. Thus, the Fantasy class cruise ships provided a full-scale test opportunity to compare these two types of ships. “The propulsion efficiency of the ships that were equipped with the Azipod propulsion system in the 1990s was already 7 to 9 per cent better than conventional ships. Thanks to new enhancements, the efficiency has improved by another 12 per cent,” Varis says. More streamlined design and longer maintenance intervals

Jukka Varis with a scale model of the Azipod propulsion unit.

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The efficiency is also affected by the unit’s shape, which is as slim and streamlined as possible and resembles the wing of an aeroplane. The Azipod propulsion unit is small in diameter, housing a small electric motor with excellent torque. This is required particularly in ships and icebreakers that sail in icy conditions. The Innopod project that took place in the 2000s improved the Azipod design, enhancing its efficiency by another 2 to 5 per cent. The structure of the system was also modified so that parts such as the propeller shaft seal can be replaced without docking the ship. “Traditionally, replacement was carried out when the ship was in dry dock, or separately VTT IMPULSE – BUSINESS


More than a hundred ships already rely on the Azipod system, varying in size from the Suomenlinna ferry that operates in Helsinki to large tankers and cruise ships.

by using an external diving chamber. Today, it is possible to access the Azipod unit to replace the part. The essential feature here is the ability to use a separate auxiliary seal which makes replacement safe,” Varis explains. Docking costs and revenue lost while the ship is docked can add up to millions, which means that avoiding docking translates into significant cost savings for shipping companies. Eliminating unnecessary wires

The Innopod project also developed a new type of user interface. This helps make ship operation as economic as possible. A diagram illustrates optimal degrees for turns and suggests propulsion levels in different situations, which helps maximise the equipment’s durability. At the same time, new sensors were introduced for the purpose of condition monitoring. “Once we have signed the required paperwork with the ship owner, we can use the sensors to monitor the system’s condition and maintenance requirements. We know our products, which means that we are also experts when it comes to maintenance,” Varis explains. “With access to the data of all our products out there, we can also learn more about the products and their life cycles.”  VTT IMPULSE – BUSINESS

Azipod is eco-friendly INITIALLY, VTT WAS chosen as a project partner because of the availability of the Finnish Funding Agency of Technology and Innovation Tekes funding in Finland. “The budget of the project was so large that the Tekes funding was of major importance in going ahead with it,” Varis says. However, as VTT has accumulated experience in the field, Finnish-based R&D operations have continued for about twenty years. Varis also emphasises the importance of personal working relationships. He sees further improvement and development areas in reducing energy consumption and data collection. ABB Marine would also like to make its manufacturing operations faster and increasingly straightforward. ”We performed life cycle analysis with VTT, reviewing the Azipod propulsion system materials, their recyclability and carbon dioxide emissions from manufacture.” What makes the Azipod unit even more environmentally friendly is the fact that its manufacture uses many recyclable metals and as few solvents as possible. ABB Marine values not only VTT’s product expertise but their multidisciplinary approach. Product development requires expertise not only in engine technology but also in materials and manufacture, data transfer, and manufacturing processes and life cycle analysis.

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Virtual 3D view of the cabin of the new product.

Automatic boom control simulation at VTT.

Greener mining

Text Anne Hänninen Photos Normet Oy

How can mines reduce the environmental effects of raw material acquisition – while increasing the appeal and safety of working deep underground? Normet aims to answer these questions.

T

oday, as much as 80 per cent of the raw materials in the world are mined from quarries. However, there are no more large deposits found on the earth’s surface. In the future we must dig deeper. “With regard to copper, for example, there will be a shift over the next decade, after which large companies will mine 80 per cent of the ore from underground,” says Janne Lehto, Vice President - Equipment Development & Offering at Normet International Ltd. Other metals will experience similar devel­ opment, but it will take a while longer. “Mines will go deeper, which makes them even more demanding environments for the technology and the people working there.” 68

The themes of greenness and safety are topical in mining, too. Greenness means reduced use of energy and water. Working underground, equipment will cause less disturbance than equipment used in quarries. The role of the work environment will become more important. “People today tend to be more demanding. If we want them to be interested in working underground, the environment must be at least as appealing as in other industries,” Lehto emphasises. “As a market leader, Normet is expected to lead the way. We need to be able to see into the future to understand what the customers consider important.” VTT IMPULSE – BUSINESS


According to Normet’s Janne Lehto, innovation requires a ’can do’ attitude.

Growing around the globe Rethinking the entire process

Normet participates in the Tekes Green Mining programme for finding new solutions for work­ ing underground. The objective of the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innoation programme is to make Finland a global leader in sustainable mining industry. The programme theme is a perfect match for Normet’s situation. “Current technologies will do for now, but new solutions are required to maintain competitiveness.” Normet’s in-house development programme focuses on four technology themes: automation, ergonomics, electric vehicles, and the utilisation of IT and networks. Environment is the umbrella theme that links them together. In addition to technologies, Normet is also developing service concepts and comprehensive service offerings for the green mines of the future. “Every part of the process is important. In 2008, we revamped our distributor concept and took control of sales. Our R&D operations were also boosted as we obtained direct product feedback from the field,” says Lehto. “We review the entire customer process at the moment, and rethink all aspects. This will ensure the best results from the customer point of view.” VTT IMPULSE IMPULSSI – BUSINESS

BASED IN IISALMI, Normet has enjoyed strong growth over the past few years, maintaining an annual growth target of 20 to 30 per cent. In 2012, Normet posted a turn­over of some 236 million euros. In 2012, the company acquired the construction chemicals manufacturer and supplier TAM International, which it already partially owned. Expansion continued in January 2013 with the acquisition of Dynamic Rock Support AS and its D-Bolt rock bolt system business. Normet employs some 1,000 people in Finland, at mining equipment plants in Chile and Sweden, at ten construction chemical production plants and at 36 sales and support centres in 24 countries around the globe. Normet’s mining and tunnel equipment and service devel­opment is based in Iisalmi, while its construction chemicals are developed in the UK and rock support systems in Norway.

Mines will go deeper, making them even more demanding environments. 69


Thanks to VTT, Normet has hit the ground running in the development of automatic booms. Ergonomics development leads the way

Normet’s development projects are enjoying steady progress. “Thanks to the robotics projects already carried out with VTT, Normet has hit the ground running in the development of automatic booms,” says Lehto. Another advanced area is the utilisation of smart phone and tablet technology and accessibility features in underground environments. The project will enter a prototype stage in 2013. “With intelligent machines, we can introduce solutions that have completely new types of user interfaces and contents. This in turn will create new possibilities and opportunities for the development of comprehensive solutions. Process optimisation is enhanced thanks to real-time data on equipment and work processes that is presented in an easily understand­ able format and is easy to access. As mines dig deeper underground, this will improve work safety and quality, and helps eliminate waste and errors. The most advanced project is the ergonomic development of Normet’s next-generation ­mining equipment. Tunnels are a very demanding and challenging environment for the machines. Machine operators face a tough environment with steep and curved access roads and cramped tunnels. Conventional suspension systems that are used above ground simply cannot cope under such conditions. “In the Green Mining programme, we have worked in cooperation with our subcontractors to develop a new type of axle suspension system. VTT supported us during the testing and modelling, allowing us to begin large-scale field testing at record speed.” Suspension is likely to be the first area to produce commercial solutions, even in 2013. Finland is a good place to innovate

the innovation process. Lehto commends VTT for providing R&D services for companies in programmes like this. “Finland is an ideal environment for product development. I dare to claim that it is possible to proceed with greater speed and efficiency here than anywhere else in the world.” Finnish mining engineers are innovative by nature, and mines want to be at the leading edge. This was evident already in the 1990s during the Intelligent mine programme, in which mines such as the Outokumpu mine in Kemi and the Pyhäsalmi mine that is today owned by First Quantum Minerals developed visionary future solutions. Both of these mines are Normet’s partners in the Green Mining programme, providing new ideas, test environments and feedback. The number of companies in the industry is limited in Finland, yet large enough to form a cluster. Companies do not need to go at it alone. Instead, they can work together in wellestablished teams and networks, supporting each other. Normet is also participating in the VTT-led FlexiMine project. One of Normet’s subcontracting partners has launched their own, company-driven project. These projects are individual development projects under the Green Mining programme, and provide synergies with Normet’s projects. VTT’s technology expertise is complemented by other project participants’ mining process expertise. The projects also require customer participation. “When all participants are enthusiastic and motivated, the projects practically drive themselves. Bringing the best expertise to the table creates a ’can do’ attitude and great results. It is important to have an energetic team that enjoys the work,” Lehto explains. “One plus one should equal three, or more!” 

VTT is one of Normet’s main partners in the Green Mining programme, and contributes to 70

VTT IMPULSE – BUSINESS


Construction underground

Normet’s electro-hydraulic selfpropelled sprayer helps optimise concrete spraying even in variable tunnel cross sections.

NORMET PROVIDES SOLUTIONS for underground mining and tunnel construction. With strong focus on product and service development and expansion of its product portfolio over recent years, Normet has established itself as the market leader. Normet specialises in the most demanding underground processes, that not only involve the drilling and loading of rock material but also the processing of other materials. This makes work automation very challenging. Examples of such work include concrete spraying and explosive charging. Normet has been building its strong equipment brand since the 1960s. In the last decade, it has introduced high early strength concrete spraying, which also requires chemical expertise. For example, the properties of concrete used vary from country to country. This means that the company carrying out the spraying must know how to provide the desired result. Maintenance must work even in the desert Thanks to its wide scope of expertise, Normet can provide different types of specialised equipment for the construction project. Normet’s equipment is designed to be as modular as possible, so that spare parts are similar across the fleet. This means less stocking of spares, and facilitates equipment maintenance. This is an important consideration in mining. Mines tend to be in very remote locations, surrounded by thousands of kilometres of desert, for example. It must be possible to maintain the equipment in these remote locations. Since the distances are long and mines difficult to reach, Normet is developing more intelligent equipment which can collect and communicate operation-related information remotely for further analysis. Based on the data, it is easier to assess and evaluate equipment status and maintenance needs. Normet also aims to offer comprehensive solution packages to its customers, assuming a greater responsibility for the customer’s process.

Normet’s charging systems are built to improve the safety and productivity of underground blasting.

VTT IMPULSE – BUSINESS

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No. of vehicles

Vaalimaa is the primary border-crossing point between Finland and Russia. After a temporary dip in 2009, traffic volumes are growing again.

1 600 000 1 500 000 1 400 000 1 300 000 1 200 000 1 100 000 1 000 000 900 000 800 000 700 000 600 000 500 000 Text Katri Isotalo Photos iStockphoto

INTELLIGENT transport corridors Widening the roads is not the only way to improve the flow of traffic. Traffic flows between Helsinki and St. Petersburg are being developed by means of cross-border IT solutions.

72

400 000 300 000 200 000 100 000 0

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

Vaalimaa

I 

n just over a decade, traffic volumes have doubled in Southeastern Finland. In 2012, close to 300,000 personal vehicles and in excess of 50,000 heavy vehicles crossed the border between Finland and Russia. Entrepreneurs in the area welcome the growing number of road users, but the increased traffic volumes can be challenging in terms of traffic safety and road maintenance. Finnish and Russian authorities are working together to identify new ways of managing the increase in traffic. In addition to building new roads, they share a vision of an VTT IMPULSEVTT – BUSINESS IMPULSSI


Traffic volumes have grown particularly fast in Imatra.

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

Nuijamaa

Imatra

Traffic congestion in the border stations in Southwestern Finland Apart from the recession-year 2008, heavy traffic in the border stations in Southwestern Finland has increased notably throughout the 2000s. The recession had no impact on the increase of light traffic. In the future, once visas are no longer required, light traffic is expected to increase significantly. A pilot for an electronic queueing system is being planned, allowing users to book a border crossing time in advance and view real-time queue information online. A similar system called GoSwift is already in operation on the border between Estonia and Russia.

Actual January Rest of the year Source: The automatic traffic measurement

station of the Finnish Road Administration

VTT IMPULSE – BUSINESS

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Information and services are readily available in both countries. intelligent transport corridor. This will enable both companies and private individuals to use real-time traffic-related information and services on both sides of the border. The objective is to improve the safety and efficiency of passenger travel and transports and to make them more environmentally friendly. The system can also provide road users with information about roadside services. Unlimited services

The intelligent transport corridor project of the Finnish and Russian authorities is called FITSRUS. Launched in 2011, the project aims to promote the creation of cross-border services and improve the flow of traffic. Another goal is to increase cooperation between Finnish and Russian private and public sectors. A key issue is finding a way to establish cross-border service chains comprising services provided by authorities and companies. They need to be accessible, compatible and deviceindependent. The project is commissioned and managed by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Financing for the initial stage was granted by the neighbouring area funds of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Finnish project participants include VTT, Sito Consulting, TIEKE Information Society Development Centre, Nokia Siemens Networks, Indagon, Vaisala and Siemens Osakeyhtiö. Russian enterprises are represented by ITS Russia, a consortium of ITC companies. “Neither country has a shortage of information or services. Russian authorities have been genuinely surprised by the number of advanced traffic-related services that Russian companies and authorities have introduced already,” says Risto Tiainen from Nokia Siemens Networks. He is responsible for NSN’s communication solutions in the Nordic countries, former Soviet republics, the Baltic countries and Turkey. At the moment, information about the weather and road conditions is available only up to the border. It is difficult to find services in the neighbouring country, and some information cannot be accessed with mobile devices. Languages also complicate matters. 74

This applies to public transport services, too. In the ideal scenario, a Russian traveller who needs to reach the Helsinki Airport could check the bus timetable while on board the Allegro train in real time without even knowing the URL of the Finnish journey planner website. Risto Tiainen says that he came across the Finnish pages of a Russian road and weather service by accident when searching the website in Russian. On the other hand, many a Finn is not aware of the Finnish cross-border traffic website rajaliikenne.fi. Government provides the information, companies create the services

It is up to the state to promote increasingly open access to information, as well as uniform data communications. Information has value only when it is widely accessible. The EU has established standards for data sharing in directives such as the Inspire directive, and more regulation is to come. For example, the GPS-based automatic emergency call system (eCall) will become mandatory in new cars in 2015. The system automatically calls the nearest emergency call centre when a vehicle’s air bag is activated. Russia has launched a similar project, ERA-Glonass, the operation of which is based on the Russian satellite system. The European Commission is keen to see successful cooperation in its neighbouring areas. “The border between Finland and Russia is not exceptional in this respect. Similar problems are experienced between EU Member States, or on the US-Canada border, for example,” says VTT’s Key Account Manager Matti Roine, who specialises in intelligent traffic solutions. It is up to companies to develop services that utilise the information. FITSRUS acts as a conductor, making sure there aren’t too many soloists on board and that the services do not hit any false notes. “In the worst-case scenario we end up with a technology jungle, with individual terminal devices for road toll payments, parking fees and GPS services and incompatible solutions sold by different car manufacturers,” says Risto Tiainen. VTT IMPULSE – BUSINESS


The VTT-led Suntio project has already tested a common platform for authority, commercial and intra-company services with parters such as NSN. “Road users carry smart phones anyway, so it would make sense to utilise them as terminals,” Tiainen says. Pilots to be launched in the spring

First benefits to road users

The FITSRUS pilots to be launched in 2013 aim to establish practices for opening up the information banks of the authorities and exchanging information between Finland and Russia. Participants include Finnish and Russian businesses from different sectors. According to the current plan, Finnish project participants include Coronet, Itella, Indagon, Gecko Systems, Messo Technologies and Vaisala, as well as VTT. Vediafi is responsible for coordinating the pilot projects. The pilots will use information provided by public administration with the aim of establishing solutions for the following applications: • automated weather services; • automated incident detection and alarm system, i.e. interoperability of the eCall and ERA-Glonass systems; • real-time information about traffic and accidents; and • public transport information service. All pilots except eCall are combined and will be the responsibility of one group of companies. A separate eCall pilot will be organised

THE FITSRUS PROJECT coordinated by the Ministry of Transport and Communications covers all methods of transport: road, rail, air and sea. At its first phase, the project focuses on the road traffic on the E18 road from Helsinki to St. Petersburg. “We chose E18 because the benefits will be the greatest on that route and we can expect quick results,” Senior Adviser for Transport Telematics Seppo Öörni explains. The latter motivation explains why speeding up border crossing will be tackled at a later stage. This could be achieved by establishing more uniform formalities on both sides of the border. Traffic could also be guided to border crossing locations according to realtime traffic information. Öörni emphasises that the project seeks to establish long-term cooperation at the ministry level. The solutions designed for the HelsinkiSt. Petersburg corridor will also be used in other parts of Finland.

Intelligent traffic refers to improving the flow or safety of traffic by means of ICT.

VTT IMPULSE – BUSINESS

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with the Russian project participants later in 2013 but no decision has yet been made on its implementation. The first applications are already planned for launch in 2013. Legislation drives technology development

There are many practical reasons for good cross-border cooperation. Where can a road user find reliable information on how long the journey will take, considering the formalities related to crossing the border? When is it safe to start the journey? If an accident causes delays on the road between Hamina and Vaalimaa, how can road users in Russia and Finland immediately be informed about it and be provided an alternative route? Up until now, journey time calculations have been based on images captured of licence plates. More effective method under snowy conditions, for example, when the information is especially useful, would be monitoring the handover of mobile phones from one base station to another. It is also important to identify what kind of services people require at their destinations and how they would like to be informed about them. “Suitable technologies are already available, but we must remember to consider the right to privacy, for example, when using them. Attitudes also play a role. It may have taken a lot of time and effort to collect information, which makes sharing even harder,” Risto Tiainen explains. Authorities are not always the best cooperators when it comes to exchanging data and compatibility of content. This is true in both countries. Open interfaces and open data are the key. They make it possible to establish profitable and innovative commercial operations. Technological solutions must be designed in a way that allows the introduction of fast-paced technological changes in a flexible manner. “We have yet to study other application areas outside transport,” Matti Roine points out.

76

Less road congestion in Moscow?

Shorter queues, less emissions Traditionally, traffic problems were solved by building new roads and making old ones wider. However, new technologies offer other solutions for main traffic problems, such as congestion, safety and emission control. In Sweden, road tolls have effectively reduced rush-hour traffic by some 20 per cent. Intelligent traffic lights can also limit the number of cars in certain areas, as in the city of Helsinki. Shorter queues and less congested roads also mean less emissions.

Traffic volumes are increasing rapidly between Finland and Russia, but also within the Russian borders. The city of St. Petersburg is renewing its entire traffic light system, and Russia has also launched a tendering process for the largest road toll system in the world. The road management authorities in North-Western Russia in particular are facing increasing pressure. For example, 80 per cent of all container traffic passes through St. Petersburg. Hence the interest in extending the intelligent traffic corridor from St. Petersburg to Moscow. “There are some twenty top-grade IT companies interested in the FITSRUS project. They are interested in cooperation and new business opportunities with Finnish companies, but also using the solutions in the former Soviet republics,” says ITS Russian’s General Director Vladimir Kruchkov. The funding for the maintenance of the joint road service will come from several sources. Authorities will finance public services, such as any investments required by road tolls. Travel service providers are expected to be interested in the opportunity to market their services. Some services could carry a fee paid by the road users. The ITS Europa 2014 conference in Helsinki is an excellent opportunity to showcase the project. Companies can exhibit their know-how to export markets. 

VTT IMPULSE – BUSINESS


CURRENT

Alzeimer’s diagnosis up to twelve months earlier VTT has developed a novel approach for measuring the state of the patient reliably and objectively in cooperation with clinicians of University of Eastern Finland and Copenhagen University Hospital Rigs­ hospitalet. A software tool called PredictAD developed by VTT compares the patient’s measurements with measurements of other patients in large databases and provides an index and a graphical representation reflecting the state of the patient. Alzheimer’s disease currently takes on average 20 months to diagnose in Europe. VTT has shown that the new method could allow as many as half of patients to get a diagnosis approximately a year earlier. Successful early diagnostics combined with new forms of care may reduce suffering and delay the institutionalisation of patients. The method will be tested at several memory clinics in Europe over the next few years. Further information: Jussi Mattila, jussi.mattila@vtt.fi

Award winning bio-oil decreases emissions and costs VTT has collaborated with energy company Fortum, technology specialist Metso and forestry firm UPM to develop a solution for co-generating electricity and heat in parallel with bio-oil production within a single power plant in a cost-efficient and sustainable manner. The new production method connects two technologies, pyrolysis and fluidized bed combustion. Bio-oil use has significant positive environmental impacts. Carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 70 to 90 per cent. It will also significantly reduce sulphur dioxide emissions. The commercial implementation of the new production method will take place at Fortum’s Joensuu CHP plant in about one year’s time. Last December VTT was awarded the EARTO Innovation Prize 2012 for developing a new bio-oil production method. EARTO is the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations. Further information: Jani Lehto, jani.lehto@vtt.fi


VTT Tekniikantie 4 A, Espoo P.O.Box 1000, FI-02044 VTT, Finland Tel. +358 20 722 111 www.vtt.fi

VTT Impulse 1/2013  

A magazine on science, technology and business.

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