Düren. State Secretary Silke Krebs discussed the opportunities of sustainable, energy-saving paper production with partners from Modellfabrik Papier and FaserInnovationsZentrum Zerkall at CO_SPACE Düren, run by the Düren Economic Development Agency (WIN.DN). Representatives of the Düren Economic Development Agency WIN.DN and the Association of the Paper Industry took the opportunity to explain to the State Secretary the challenges facing this key industry as a result of the energy crisis and structural change, particularly in Düren. The two projects presented current developments and their plans to become active in the structural change in the Rhenish mining area.
The Modellfabrik Papier, founded as a consortium of the paper industry, research institutions and business development organisations, is unique in Europe. With the establishment of the Modellfabrik Papier, the paper industry is investing in sustainable, energy-saving paper production. In close cooperation with WIN.DN and with the active support of renowned research institutions, Modellfabrik Papier is pursuing a common goal: to reduce the energy requirement per tonne of paper by 80% by 2045.
“With the construction of the Modellfabrik Papier in Düren, we are well embedded locally in the structural change and feel that we are in exactly the right place. Our 24 shareholders and the members of our scientific advisory board now come from all over Germany. I also see the Modellfabrik Papier as a showcase project at European level. The need to accompany the paper industry into a sustainable future not only has a positive impact on the climate regionally, but ultimately worldwide,” says Peter Bekaert, Managing Director of Modellfabrik Papier.
Back in January, WIN.DN and Modellfabrik Papier received the first funding decisions from the federal government’s “STARK” funding guideline from NRW Minister of Economic Affairs Mona Neubaur in order to further expand the network and construct a new research building. The research project to create a digital twin of paper production has been running since April. With the move to an interim location, the Modellfabrik Papier will soon have laboratories at its disposal. Research can then begin there immediately until the Modellfabrik Papier is fully operational when it moves into the new building in the Düren innovation quarter in 2025.
Thomas Hissel, WIN.DN: “The joint goal of the WIN.DN business development organisation and Modellfabrik Papier is to maintain the competitiveness of Düren’s leading industry in the face of structural change through low-carbon and sustainable paper production, thereby securing thousands of jobs in the long term.”
The Zerkall Fibre Innovation Centre (FIZZ) was established around 1.5 years ago as a partnership between companies in the packaging and paper industries. What both sectors have in common is the need for sustainably produced and recyclable fibre raw materials and products.
The companies want to use sustainable fibre raw materials with regional availability and high quality in the future in order to meet the growing demand in the markets.
The FIZZ concept was developed by several companies together with researchers from the region and throughout Germany. FIZZ integrates the production and development of plant- and residue-based fibre sources in a unique way, the processing of which is useful for new fibre products in various sectors, such as the paper and packaging industry, but also for other sectors such as construction or textiles in the medium term.
The Zerkall paper mill in the Eifel region will be expanded as a FIZZ location – also in connection with the reconstruction of the Zerkall paper mill after the devastating flood in 2021. FIZZ will form a particularly practical cluster here together with the newly emerging production of high-quality paper and paper products. Regional economic history, art and tourism will also be brought closer to the public at the traditional Zerkall site.
FIZZ eV was founded in April 2023 as a first step towards realisation. FIZZ will soon be realising its first funded project. Transformation projects have already been created using the organisation’s own funds. The first production facilities based on sustainable fibre raw materials will go into operation in the coming months. FIZZ has already created jobs and added value through transformation.
State Secretary for Economic Affairs Silke Krebs has now exchanged views with partners from Modellfabrik Papier and FIZZ on the current status of the projects, the research projects now starting and the planned future transfer to industry: “We want to specifically promote good innovation approaches for the development of alternative materials in paper production. Innovative processes make a decisive contribution to climate-friendly industrial processes and strengthen the competitiveness of our strong paper companies in North Rhine-Westphalia. This is an important step on North Rhine-Westphalia’s path to becoming Europe’s first climate-neutral industrial location.”
People on the cover from left to right:
Hans-Wilhelm Hambloch (FIZZ), Petra Trosien (MWIKE), Bernhard Gross (WEPA), Elke Hohmann (ZRR), Prof. Dr Ulrich Schurr (FZJ), Peter Bekaert (MFP), Winfried Kranz-Pitre (WIN.DN), State Secretary for Economic Affairs Silke Krebs, Claudia Autenrieb (Niederauer Mühle), Thomas Hissel (City of Düren / WIN.DN), Dr Marcel Prinz (WEPA), Martin Drews (Die Papierindustrie e.V.)