Fortum, UPM, Valmet partner to produce advanced biofuels

By Valmet Corp. | March 11, 2014

Fortum, UPM and Valmet have joined forces to develop a new, winning technology to produce advanced high value lignocellulosic fuels, such as transportation fuels or higher value bio-liquids. The idea is to develop catalytic pyrolysis technology for upgrading bio-oil and commercialize the solution. 

According to several studies pyrolysis technology is seen as the most competitive route to produce advanced lignocellulosic biofuels, and is one of the most efficient routes for meeting EU2020 greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

The five-year project is called LignoCat (lignocellulosic fuels by catalytic pyrolysis). The project is a natural continuation of the consortium's earlier bio-oil project together with the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, commercializing integrated pyrolysis technology for production of sustainable bio-oil for replacement of heating oil in industrial use.

In this project, the consortium aims higher and the target is to develop novel integrated technology to produce high value biofuels to replace fossil transportation fuels, and thereby create new business for the consortium companies.

"We will develop pyrolysis technology enabling improvement of bio-oil quality compatible for further refining to transportation fuels or intermediate products. This is a business opportunity for us, which will lead to new sustainable processes and products. We see a great potential in this project and look forward to continued cooperation," siad Jussi Mäntyniemi, director of technology and research and development at Valmet.

Successful project execution will help utilities and the forest industry sector in making investment decisions for entering advanced biofuel production.

UPM's knowledge of biofuels plays a key role in the project. "Our aim is to become a significant advanced biofuel producer. In accordance with our strategy, we will start production in Lappeenranta with crude tall oil residue as a raw material, and simultaneously we are looking for ways of producing biofuels out of solid wood biomass. Catalytic pyrolysis is one of the promising options we are looking into," said Petri Kukkonen, vice president of UPM Biofuels.

New technologies based on integration enable energy efficient production of advanced biofuels and is a way to maximize the value of Nordic biomass.

"Fortum is eager to continue this work towards higher value bio liquids based on the former successful co-operation with our R&D partners. This project is a straight continuation to our first CHP (combined heat and power) integrated bio oil investment in Joensuu and supports perfectly our strategy to increase total efficiency and value of our fleet of CHPs. The project's scope opens us the possibility to explore interesting new business opportunities and to define our role in the production chain of advanced biofuels,” said Jukka Heiskanen, said of research and development at Fortum's heat business.

The LignoCat project is funded by Tekes - the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. The outcome, when successful, will be a new sustainable product on the market. It will significantly reduce CO2 emissions in the transportation and heating sectors, and thus help in achieving national and international targets in greenhouse gas emission reduction. The project will create a knowledge cluster within biorefining for universities, research centers and consortium partners.

In addition to employment opportunities, final products will have a positive impact on the Finnish and European trade balance as the target market for second generation transportation fuels by 2020 is 10 million metric tons per year.