A biofuel will be created out of wood raw-material in the near future. Neste Oil, which is aiming to be the world's leading producer of biodiesel, and the forest industry company Stora Enso are cooperating in developing a new-generation production technology, finnfacts reported.
The purpose of the cooperation is to use wood raw-material in the production of biofuels and so replace fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The project is exploiting the expertise at Neste Oil, Stora Enso and VTT in order to develop and commercialize the production of a wood-based biofuel.
Exhaustive use of wood
Stora Enso will produce wood-based biomass as the raw material and utilize the heat generated. Neste Oil will be responsible for the final refining and marketing.
"The aim is to create new production that is financially viable," says Jorma Westlund the Senior Vice President, Public Affairs, at Stora Enso. "The industrial production of the raw material suited to biodiesel during pulp production provides synergistic benefits in both the production process and the logistics of the wood raw-material. We must try to obtain as great a benefit as possible from the forest biomass once a tree has been felled."
"We must have the best brains behind the new innovation. Thanks to the cooperation we are better placed to find the solutions to open technical questions and so create something new and important," says Osmo Kammonen, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, at Neste Oil.
Purifying gas a challenge
Initially the companies will build a jointly owned demonstration plant at Stora Enso's Varkaus mill. In order to be able to exploit the wood-based biomass in the production of the fuel, the project must deal with the challenges associated with producing a clean synthesis gas.
"The problem with the degasification of the biomass is the impurities in the gas, which prevent the fuel being produced from being top-grade. Our biggest challenge now is to find a method of purifying the gas," Kammonen says.
When the process at the demonstration plant operates in the expected way, the companies will invest in real commercial plants. "We're expecting the demonstration plant to give valuable information about the transfer to larger-scale production relatively quickly," Westlund predicts.
Natural step forward
The expanding biofuel markets in Europe offer Neste Oil and Stora Enso promising scope, because the demand for high-grade fuels produced widely from different raw materials is on the increase.
The aim of the European Union is that 5.75 per cent of the fossil fuels used in transportation must be replaced by biofuels by 2010. By 2020 this proportion must be 10 per cent. This will require a considerable increase in biofuel production.
Transferring to the use of wood-based raw material in biofuel production is a logical step forward for Neste Oil. "The cooperation will enable us to expand the raw material base of our biodiesel beyond food fats," Kammonen says.