Saturday, November 03, 2007

Integrated, stand-alone forest biorefineries

We are studying how to move towards and advance the development of integrated, stand-alone forest biorefineries. Since the industry has many established mills, it is appropriate and prudent to explore biorefinery opportunities by integrating biorefinery technologies into existing operations.

Older mills can get a new value, a second life when a new business model is developed based on unique and innovative research and development.

As experience is gained with the range of technologies that would transform a forest products mill into a biorefinery, new integrated, stand-alone mill concepts can be developed for future mill retrofits and greenfield industrial investments.

We count with a potential of four to six units in Finland. Implementation could be even easier in Sweden where mills have a lot of own forests. UPM is a big a forest owner in Finland. The value of wood is not in the fibers anymore.

A forest biorefinery would use variable feedstocks including

  1. harvesting residues,
  2. extracts from effluents and
  3. fractions of pulping liquors to produce fibre, energy, chemicals and new bio-materials

As mills demonstrate the potential of the new forest harvesting and processing technologies and prove to be commercially viable, new integrated, stand-alone facilities can be constructed to serve traditional markets for wood and paper products as well as new ones for energy, chemicals and materials.

There is a big logistical challenge for stand-alone and new greenfield units.

Strategic alliances with companies in the energy, chemicals and manufacturing sectors would be essential, as these companies have the infrastructure and market knowledge needed to successfully compete in their industry sectors.

The picture is quite clear: Stora Enso and Neste Oil are natural partners. UPM is partnering with Andritz that is an Engineering company. UPM is considering its pulp and paper companies in France and Scotland as pilot units. What could be done in Voikkaa?

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