Milestones in the success story of the cooperation between Tapojärvi and Digipolis

2012 November
A preliminary evaluation meeting on the utilisation of industrial side streams was conducted between Jouko Pakarinen of Tapojärvi and Kari Poikela of Digipolis. In the middle of the meeting, Pertti Tapojärvi entered the room and asked: "Where is the million?" The company’s management was interested in how the utilisation of industrial side streams translates into a genuinely profitable business. The main outcome of the preliminary evaluation meeting was that both sides committed to cooperation. 

The commitment to cooperation was easy for Tapojärvi, as the company has been conducting long-term research, development and production work on industrial side streams for many years. The company set the objective that no disposable waste would be generated at any stage.

2013 April
Workshop: Arctic industrial ecosystem
For the Arctic industrial ecosystem workshop, Digipolis interviewed all Kemi-Tornio’s industrial operators and leading service providers in advance and gathered them in one workshop. At the workshop, the companies’ situations, needs and challenges were mapped. As a result of the workshop process, careful documentation and company prioritisation, a roadmap for the development of industrial side stream utilisation was created, on the basis of which a development project emerged. Digipolis received the mandate from the workshop participants to start driving the matter forward.

According to the workshop protocol, the participants' shared views can be summarised as follows: 
"6–7 years is a short time to create a waste/side stream market." 
"No more research but concrete things to do."

The aim was to create products from Outokumpu's byproducts where virgin cement and aggregate would be replaced by slag. The planning of concrete block production was quickly started by Tapojärvi. Cooperation with Outokumpu was familiar to Tapojärvi from previous years, as the company had been developing opportunities for Outokumpu’s byproducts since 1989. Tapojärvi's mission is to meet the development needs of companies and partners by creating new services and products, as well as sustainable and efficient practices for improving material efficiency. 

Digipolis produced a business plan for the concrete blocks worked by Outokumpu and Tapojärvi. The Arctic industrial side streams I project started. Lapland University of Applied Sciences joined the steering group.

Arctic industrial side streams 1+2
The projects’ goals included turning the identified investment initiatives of industrial side and waste streams into SME business through pilots, as well as identifying new potentials. 

At this stage, Digipolis already had comprehensive knowledge of activities related to side and waste streams in Sea Lapland and the wider Northern Finland region, and this information was utilised in the projects.

One of the most important developments of the year was our joining in European networks. Digipolis compiled a list of Kemi-Tornio’s industrial side streams, including operator descriptions. Lapland was selected as one of the European Commission's cluster model areas, with emphasis on the sustainable processing of Arctic natural resources, where the spearhead was the industrial circular economy.

May 2015
Significant cooperation with Hannukainen Mining Oy, owned by Tapojärvi, started. We decided to develop a general concept for the utilisation of side streams, serving the mining industry as an ideological and commercial product.

November 2015
In cooperation with Palsatech, the showroom concept was developed in conjunction with the industrial hall project. The aim was to make extensive use of side stream materials for building an industrial hall in Kemi. Tapojärvi designed a base solution from soil cement, which utilises industrial side streams: the load-bearing and dividing structural layers would be made of slag and the hall floor of slag-based cement. In the end, Palsatech found facilities elsewhere with the help of Digipolis, but the project’s research and development work was fruitful. 

Palsatech's halls with the showroom concept began to be re-designed with Tapojärvi and Digipolis in April 2018.

December 2015
Visits and presentations in Mosjøen and Mo i Rana, Norway.

The first thesis relating to side stream-produced concrete blocks was completed at Lapland University of Applied Sciences. Lapland University of Applied Sciences became involved in the development work. As an important development step, practical development work was started between Tapojärvi and Lapland University of Applied Sciences. Digipolis linked Tapojärvi and Lapland University of Applied Sciences in the compilation of the theses of the Arctic Steel and Mining RDI Group.

1) Production of slag blocks from FeCr slag
2) Production of slag blocks from arc furnace slag
3) Soil cement experiments

Aalto University has developed a practical tool for measuring sustainability in the process industry.

Digipolis co-developed the tool and enabled it to be piloted so that it was possible to transparently assess, for example, the sustainability of investments in the bio economy. The sustainability tool has since been further developed to suit all sectors of industry and x-ray enterprises of all sizes.

Towards a sustainable Tapojärvi
The Tapojärvi sustainability tool process was applied to the slag processing method so that other values, such as ecology and sociability, could be measured in addition to the recovery of metals. The aim was to also test the suitability of the sustainability tool at mining sites through Hannukainen Mining. 

The Tapojärvi sustainability assessment report was completed in January 2017. In the report, the company's environmental activity received a rating of -4.14 (very good), economic activity-3.94 (very good) and social activity -3.82 (very good).  

The company is committed to sustainable development. In addition, the sustainability tool report signed by Aalto University will bring credibility, especially to international operations.

Digipolis and Hannukainen Mining together began considering where it might be worth piloting the use of recycled materials in a mine. Following the survey, the licence application was accompanied by a reference to the utilisation of side streams in superstructures.

The process progressed to a mining pilot, which Hannukainen Mining committed to join. The Kittilä mine also undertook to enable the pilot structure and Outokumpu and SSAB provided part of the piloting material. Digipolis was responsible for the management and documentation of the pilot licensing processes. Construction, material collection and structure implementation and funding were Tapojärvi’s responsibility.

Digipolis commissioned an assessment of the clearing of quarries and the utilisation of side streams in the neutralisation of mining waters. At the same time, information on the state of the current waters in the quarries was received.

November 2016
Digipolis integrated the circular economy ideas of Solid Liner Oy and Tapojärvi. The result was a recycling material-based geo polymer for mining structures.

January 2017
The Arctic circular economy was designated a priority in the strategy of Lapland University of Applied Sciences. All the research groups at the Lapland University of Applied Sciences identified their expertise in this theme through the strategy work. The identification was facilitated by a Digipolis expert.

From 2013–2018, Tapojärvi commissioned seven circular economy-related theses in Lapland and Oulu Universities of Applied Sciences and the University of Oulu. One thesis is pending.

In the special assignment of the industrial designers at the University of Lapland, the material used in the design of noise barriers was slag cement.

June 2017
The Circular and Bio Economy Centre, funded by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, was announced. The founders and core actors were Digipolis, the City of Kemi and Lapland University of Applied Sciences. The Centre aims to develop a more competitive business environment for companies involved in the circular economy.

May 2017
The Circular Economy Centre and Digipolis began to make the geo polymer structure project visible, because the application for funding had not progressed in the desired way at Tekes.

Tapojärvi, Jyväskylän Energia Oy and Elker Oy started cooperation on research into a demo plant for electrical and electronic waste. The first meeting and contact took place at the premises of Digipolis, organised by Kari Poikela.

August 2017
Planning of the circular economy demo plant continued in Jyväskylä. Tapojärvi began to study how the hydrometallurgical methods under development could be applied, for example, to the processing of mining and metals industry side streams.

In the design of the demo plant, Tapojärvi is responsible for raw material processing, as well as the grinding and mechanical pre-enrichment of electronic scrap before hydrometallurgical processing. New equipment manufacturers and separation devices were found in test drives of electronic scrap, which are also being tested in slag processing.

November 2017
Terrafame signalled its interest in geo polymer cover structures.

November 2017
A sustainability tool was made for Hannukainen Mining. At the same time, the previous sustainability tool was extended to include regional economic impact. VTT (Juha Honkatukia) was also involved.

The Hannukainen Mining sustainability tool report was completed in April 2018. The overall sustainability was set to a value of -3.0, which can be considered a very good figure for an organisation under development.

A Digipolis employee joined the development tasks of Tapojärvi as a shared resource.

The assignments and implementation of directional project 1-2 of Lapland University of Applied Sciences Production Engineering took place in factory conditions at the Tapojärvi slag enrichment plant.

January 2018
Business Finland undertook to fund a mining pilot for the circular economy nationwide. Funding for the project was also received from the Renlund Foundation.

Tapojärvi participated in the degree programme for circular economy companies in the chemical field, which came through Digipolis and was organised by Sitra and Deloitte.

April 2018
Tapojärvi began to further develop the formulas for slag-based geo polymer and hired employees for it.

August/September 2018
The production of geo polymer blocks for Pohjaset Oy was started.

August/September 2018
The mining pilot structure began to be implemented at the Kittilä mine.