Research by VTT shows that lignocellulosic biomass can be used in the
production of high-quality biofuels for the price of less than one euro per
litre. New technologies developed in Finland allow transfer of more than half
the energy of wood raw materials to the end-product.
Transport fuel can be produced efficiently from forestry residue using a
method developed in Finland based on pressurised fluidised-bed gasification.
Production of renewable biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass, mainly forestry
residue derived from regeneration felling and thinning, could achieve an
energy-efficiency rate of 50–67%, depending on the end-product and process
conditions. Should the thermal energy produced as a by-product be exploited for
district heat or industrial steam, for example, the total efficiency rate of
biomass use could reach 74–80%. Besides oxygen gasification technology for big
production plants, VTT is developing a new more cost-efficient process suitable
also for smaller production plants. This will help the commercialisation and
introduction of the new technology into industrial use.
In addition to gasification methods, VTT has developed pyrolysis technology
for production of biofuels. VTT and the US firm PNNL (Pacific Northwest National
Laboratory) have joined forces to seek solutions to the biggest processing
challenges: high hydrogen consumption and catalyst deactivation. Hydrogen
consumption and production costs are reduced throughout the production chain
with the aid of AspenPlus™ simulation software and through development of the
The process involves bio-oil, produced using boilers in the forest industry
or in district heating, being transported to an oil refinery to be processed
alongside other oil types. The particular advantage of the new gasification
method lies in allowing phased growth of production capacity, reducing the risk
for entrepreneurs investing in the value chain.
Finland is a forerunner in the commercialisation of lignocellulosic biomass
pyrolysis technology. Metso built a plant for Fortum at Joensuu which will have
an annual bio-oil production of 50,000 tonnes. Metso, UPM and VTT cooperated in
developing the new technology, the research forming part of Tekes' Biorefine
programme. During the first phase, the bio-oil will be used in district heating
boilers to replace fossil fuels.
Fortum received the international Special Award for Innovation at the Global
District Energy Climate Awards Gala for its plans for combining the bio-oil
plant under construction at Joensuu with the existing CHP system and district
VTT was awarded by EARTO, the European Association of Research and Technology
Organisations, for the breakthrough work in the development of technology
combining pyrolysis and fluidised-bed gasification in 2012.