Story | 09/13/2016 08:18:00

UPM Biofuels is aiming higher

UPM is looking to grow its biofuel business in line with the company's long term strategy, so it has established a biofuel development programme alongside the current business.

As Petri Kukkonen, the first Vice President of the Biofuels business, was appointed Vice President, UPM Biofuels Development programme, in August, former Sales and Marketing Director Sari Mannonen was appointed as the new Vice President of the Biofuels business.

"After being in charge of the commercial side, I am honoured to take this wider responsibility for leading the entire Biofuels business. Petri has done a great job in leading the development of this company’s innovative new business, and I look forward to building on this solid foundation together with the team,” says Mannonen.

The business unit of Biofuels concentrates on the market- and customer-driven business with the help of stable and profitable production, whereas the development side focuses on technologies, raw materials and regulations to prepare for growth.

"In our raw material research we focus on different new feedstocks that do not compete with food production, for example forest residues and side streams from industrial processes. We are also planning to test different waste- and residue-based raw materials in addition to crude tall oil in the Lappeenranta Biorefinery to investigate how the new feedstocks function together with the crude tall oil in the biorefinery process."

From innovation to business

Building the Biofuels business from scratch has been an interesting and rewarding journey.

"One of our most important R&D breakthroughs was when we found a way to pre-treat and process the crude tall oil, a residue of our own pulp production, and use it to produce a high quality traffic fuel," says Mannonen.

Another milestone was the investment decision in February 2012 that started the construction of the world's first biorefinery producing renewable fuels from crude tall oil in Lappeenranta.

"Naturally, both the start of commercial production in the biorefinery in January 2015 and the launch of the wood-based UPM BioVerno diesel in the Finnish market have been important milestones for us. Finns have been able to fill up their tanks with UPM BioVerno in service stations since May 2015. We have proven that, with determined research, we were able to develop a new fuel that is both efficient and decreases traffic emissions significantly," she adds.

Biofuels is part of UPM's new innovative businesses that produce low-emission renewable diesel from crude tall oil, a residue from UPM's own pulp production process. Strategically, the new business has been an important new step for the Biofore company. The long term target is to achieve a significant position in the advanced biofuels market and increase the importance of biofuel business within the company.