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Biomass fractionation and pulping

Effective development and scale-up of new biomass processing technologies and concepts

VTTs versatile facilities and skilled personnel enable effective development and scale-up of new biomass processing technologies and concepts.

The crucial first step in ensuring the creation of new industrial value chains is the feasible processing of biomass into valuable intermediates. These intermediates may be either fibrous or fibrillar particles, nanocellulose, dissolving pulps, various types of cellulose and lignin fractions, or sugars.

We can help you to develop your biomass processing concept towards a more efficient and environmentally sound process, and to produce specialty pulps or new types of industrial raw materials from a variety of biomass sources.

We developed a sulphur-lean cooking of birch with tailor-made soda or soda-AQ cooking, providing either production ofsulphur-free lignin or higher energy production compared to kraft process without sacrificing the quality of paper grade pulp (UPM).

We upgraded waste hygiene materials for special cellulose products instead of their ending up as landfill, including development of the process concept (Fater).

Core competences in biomass processing and fractionation

VTT utilises its core competences that include:

  • Raw material value assessment
  • Chemical, mechanical and enzymatic processing
  • Bleaching technology
  • Chemical characterisation and analytics
  • Techno-economical concept evaluations
  • LCA for developing and up-scaling processing technologies in order to translate various biomasses into industrially feasible raw materials


An example of our current research is the development of pretreatment concepts for producing sugars from non-food biomasses, together with several European RTOs.

Another example is the development of efficient production methods for cellulose nanofibrils within the Finnish Centre of Nanocellulosic Technologies (established by VTT, Aalto University and UPM).

Multi-purpose equipment for biomass processing and fractionation technologies

VTT offers development and scale-up of next generation biorefinery concepts from TRL 1 to TRL 4 using
a combination of multi-purpose semi-pilot scale reactors together with complementary processing devices for chemical fractionation of biomass into biopolymers (cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin) and/or fibres, and
a selection of grinders and refiners in laboratory and semi-pilot scale for mechanical fractionation of biomass into fibrous and fibrillar particles for fibre products.

Our expertise and research facilities are used in a variety of industrial sectors. Many of our customers seek value-added utilisation routes for their raw materials or side-streams, more efficient alternatives for their biomass processing, or means to improve their current products. Cooperation with VTT can benefit all industries using biomass as an integral part of their products.

Our fibre tailoring knowledge is applicable to all kinds of fibre products. The specific fibre requirements of any end-product are derived from the product development targets, and our competences help in turning them into fibre treatment solutions.

Cellulose nanofibrils can be applied to several products and end-uses. These include reinforcing paper and board, films, membranes, biocomposites, paints, and structural fibre foams, while cellulose nanofibrils can also be utilised as an industrials processing aid.

Lignocellulose-derived biopolymers and sugars can be used as intermediates, for example for films, glues, biofuels and platform chemicals.