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Greener fuels through gasicifation technology

Soili Helminen

Inaugurated in Espoo’s Otaniemi in October 2006, VTT’s gasification test plant develops new technologies for synthesis gas refinement from different kinds of biomass. Synthesis gas can be used to produce cleaner biofuels.

VTT’s 500-kilowatt gasification test plant creates a competence base for the commercial production of synthesis gas. The first commercial production plant in Finland is expected to be built in the early 2010s.

“Even as early as 2015 or 2020, Finland will be able to boast half a dozen plants, which will together produce approximately 15 per cent of the transport biofuel demand,” says Esa Kurkela, Development Manager.

The production of biofuels by gasification provides environmental benefits, especially in the form of reduced greenhouse gases. The solution VTT is developing can help reduce greenhouse emissions from traffic by approximately 80 per cent as compared with the use of fossil fuels. Furthermore, the most important end product, synthetic biodiesel, is cleaner than conventional diesel oils.

Finnish companies ready to start

2004 saw the launch of an extensive energy project, mainly funded by Tekes and VTT, which develops the gasification technology of solid fuels and cleaning of gases. The project compares the technological and economic properties of different gasification methods and estimates the production costs of various end products.

In addition to VTT and Helsinki University of Technology, the project has numerous corporate partners, such as Neste Oil, Foster Wheeler Energy, Andritz, Vapo, Pohjolan Voima, UPM, Stora Enso, M-Real and MetsäBotnia. In September 2006, Neste Oil, which was responsible for evaluating the synthesis technology and contacts with synthesis partners, published its strategy, in which becoming a leading biodiesel supplier plays a central role.

“Spring 2007 will see the launch of synthetic NExBTL biodiesel production. Furthermore, Neste Oil aims at introducing a biotechnology production technology based on lignocellulose raw materials in the early 2010s. The concept created in the joint project can turn into an international success. Neste Oil will assume a central role in the further development project,” says Harri Turpeinen, Vice-President, Neste Oil.

Esa Kurkela thinks that Finnish strengths in the highly competitive sector include substantial expertise in biomass gasification and close cooperation between industry and research in the field. “I believe we are holding Finland’s future export industry in our hands.”

More information:

Development Manager Esa Kurkela
Tel. +358 40 502 6231

Published: 26.4.2007
Updated: 26.4.2007

Provinces: Uusimaa

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