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Metso, Fortum, UPM, and VTT are jointly developing a clean energy alternative with domestic bio-oil

Archive 30.11.2009 0:00 EET

(30 November 2009) – Metso, UPM, and VTT have developed a biomass-based bio-oil production concept to provide an alternative to fossil fuels. Since June of this year, the Metso R&D Center in Tampere, Finland, has been producing high-quality bio-oil from sawdust and forest residues. Fortum is now joining this development project.

The consortium has developed a bio-oil production process in which a reactor, linked to a conventional fluidized bed boiler, can first gasify solid biomass and then compress it into liquid form. Through their five months of pilot testing and utilization of the R&D Center's 2 MW plant, the partners have improved the bio-oil production methods and the efficiency of the process. Already, more than 20 tons of bio-oil have been produced. An alternative to heavy and light fuel oils, domestic bio-oil decreases the burden on the atmosphere.

The Finnish technology developers are committed to ongoing improvements in the production of bio-oil from renewable resources. It is the companies’ vision that combining bio-oil production with bioenergy-based power plants will also provide them with new business potential, as well as remarkable cost and efficiency benefits. The companies’ agreement for bio-oil test production extends through 2010.

Fortum now brings the important energy producer and end-product user angle to the research and development project. “The long-term objective of Fortum is to be a company whose production does not cause carbon dioxide emissions. Use of bio-oil as a carbon-dioxide-neutral fuel is a promising option in our range of methods,” notes Strategy Director Maria Paatero-Kaarnakari of Fortum.

Metso is in charge of the technological development of the pyrolysis reactor integrated into the fluidized bed boiler. Kari Kuukkanen, vice-president for Technology in Metso’s Power business line, says, “Bio-oil is an alternative for fueling bioenergy-producing power plants and oil boilers, and it will also be able to be used as raw material for chemicals and biodiesel production in the future. We plan to improve the energy-efficiency of the process still further.”

UPM adds to the project expertise in the use of biomass as raw material. “Our target is to utilize all parts of a tree. Bark, stumps, and small trees can be utilized in the process in order to produce liquid fuels in a cost effective way. UPM's mills provide an ideal infrastructure for developing the production processes,” says Petri Kukkonen, Director for Biofuels Business Area at UPM.

The bio-oil production process is based on VTT's earlier R&D and patents. In the test production phase, VTT focuses on the control and quality of the bio-oil. In the longer term, also bio-oil refining will be developed, for example, for feeding a conventional oil refinery. The projects are subsidized by the EU and Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation.

Further information for the press, please contact:
Jukka Heiskanen, Development Director, R&D, Fortum Heat Division, tel. +358 50 452 4250
Petri Kukkonen, Director, Biofuel Business Area, UPM, tel. +358 204 15 0336
Kari Kuukkanen, Vice President, Technology, Power business line, Metso, tel. +358 400 623 059
Satu Helynen, Technology Director, VTT, tel. +358 20 722 2661

Metso is a global supplier of sustainable technology and services for mining, construction, power generation, automation, recycling, and the pulp and paper industries. The company has over 26,500 employees, in more than 50 countries. www.metso.com

Fortum is an energy company focusing on the Nordic countries, Russia, and the Baltic region. The company's business consists of electricity and heat generation, their sales and distribution, and power plant operation and maintenance. Fortum Group employs approx. 13,500 people. www.fortum.fi

UPM leads the integration of bio and forest industries into a new, sustainable and innovation-driven future. Our products are made of renewable raw materials and are recyclable. UPM consists of three Business Groups: Energy and pulp, Paper, and Engineered materials. The Group employs around 24,000 people.
UPM – The Biofore Company – www.upm-kymmene.com

VTT – the Technical Research Centre of Finland – is Northern Europe's largest organization specializing in applied sciences. It provides a wide range of technology and research services for its domestic and international customers, consisting of both companies and public-sector entities. VTT employs 2,700 people.