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Södra first in the world with fossil-free biomethanol

Swedish forest owners association Södra has completed the world’s first plant for commercial biomethanol, a sustainable fuel from forest biomass, at Södra’s pulp mill in Mönsterås, southeast Sweden. Over the next few days, a first pilot delivery will go to Danish biofuels producer Emmelev A/S that will use biomethanol instead of fossil-derived methanol in its biodiesel production.

Swedish forest owners association Södra has completed the world’s first plant for commercial biomethanol, a sustainable fuel from forest biomass, at its pulp mill in Mönsterås, southeast Sweden. Over the next few days, a first pilot delivery will go to Danish biodiesel producer Emmelev A/S that will use biomethanol in its production (photo courtesy Södra).

In 2017, Södra announced that it would invest over SEK 100 million (≈ EUR 10.56 million) in a biomethanol production facility at its Mönsterås pulp- and sawmill complex in southeast Sweden as part of its shift towards a circular economy, resource-efficiency and achieving its goal of becoming fossil-fuel free.

It is with pride that we have now started up the first commercial plant in the world for biomethanol. The transition to a bioeconomy means that all raw materials must be used efficiently. Biomethanol is produced from the crude methanol recovered from the manufacturing process at Södra’s pulp mills. It is part of the circular process that already exists in Södra’s mills, in which all parts of forest products are used for the best possible effect. With this step, we are showing the way to a fossil-free society, and it is fully in line with our own strategy for fossil-free transportation by 2030, said Henrik Brodin, Strategic Business Development Manager at Södra.

The investment is also broadening Södra’s product portfolio with a new bioproduct.

More and more people are realising why we need to switch to fossil-free alternatives. That’s why it feels so great that we can bring biomethanol to the market as a substitute for fossil methanol in the transport sector as well as a chemical base. Demand for bio-based products is favourable and we have long experience in delivering other bioproducts to the fuel and chemical industries. As we now continue to build on that, it feels particularly gratifying to have made a first pilot delivery to our customer Emmelev A/S. We are now looking forward to continuing the development of the product together with our customers, said Viktor Odenbrink, Sales Manager at Södra Cell Bioproducts.

Emmelev A/S is a Danish family-owned agricultural company that has developed large-scale biodiesel production from local canola (rapeseed) but uses fossil methanol as a raw material in production.

Biodiesel will play a key role in the transition to a fossil-free Denmark and we are very happy that Swedish biomethanol will now be used in production. Our biodiesel will be 100 percent renewable and based on locally sourced raw materials. Biodiesel produced from Danish canola and Swedish forests can secure fuel supplies for heavy road transport, as well as buses and construction machinery. This will be crucial for a transformation of the energy sector. We emphasise local and regional production and consider Sweden part of our local area, and we have good relationships with Swedish companies. It, therefore, feels natural to be entering into an agreement with Södra, said Morten Simonsen, co-owner of Emmelev A/S.

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