AustroCel Hallein begins construction of Austria's first cellulosic ethanol plant and signs off-take deal with OMV
In Austria, independent pulp producer AustroCel Hallein GmbH has begun construction of a new 30 million litre per annum bioethanol plant at its Hallein pulp mill making it the first advanced biofuels biorefinery in the country. Furthermore, the company has signed a multi-year agreement with integrated oil and gas major OMV AG for the supply of advanced ethanol for blending with gasoline.
With the new cellulosic ethanol plant in Hallein, a vision for replacing fossil fuels becomes reality. All permits for the construction and operation of the plant have been approved, financing has been secured and a supply contract for several years has been concluded with OMV AG.
Initial site preparations were started at the AustroCel premises in September 2019. The first construction phase through to winter requires excavation works, soil compaction, and the construction of a new rail track and extension of an existing track. The cellulosic ethanol will be shipped by rail.
Expected to commence operations by the end of 2020, the new advanced biofuels plant will cost around EUR 42 million, create long-term employment for an additional 10 employees and produce up to 30 million litres of cellulosic bioethanol per annum.
Derived from brown-liquor
AustroCel Hallein says that it is committed to the cascading use of resources. High-purity cellulose is produced from long-fibre PEFC certified spruce supplied as woodchips from the sawmill industry. This cellulose is predominantly processed in Asia to make fibres for textile applications.
When the wood is boiled, so-called brown liquor is produced. In the past, this was vaporized and then burnt off. But this brown liquor contains valuable wood sugars that can be fermented via the addition of yeast, after which they can be distilled into bioethanol.
Waste materials are valuable raw materials. With the bioethanol project, we are not only creating more jobs in Hallein, but we are also developing interesting new products with creative solutions which also present new economic opportunities, said Jörg Harbring, Managing Director of AustroCel Hallein.
Off-take with OMV
Headquartered in Vienna, OMV has recently signed a multi-year off-take agreement for the advanced bioethanol. The ethanol will be blended with gasoline and is estimated to replace around one percent of the annual gasoline consumption in Austria saving around 50 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually.
This is the first agreement concluded by OMV in the field of advanced, second-generation biofuels. It will enable OMV to take an important step towards reducing the carbon intensity of its fuels. In addition to meeting international climate targets, creating added value in Austria is a priority for us. With AustroCel we are delighted to have found such a reliable cooperation partner as well as being able to help strengthen the industrial sector in Austria, said Thomas Gangl, OMV Executive Board member responsible for Refining & Petrochemical Operations.
Classified as “advanced biofuels” the product will play a part in reducing the carbon intensity of the OMV product portfolio and thereby help it to meet its OMV 2025 Sustainability Goals. The first supplies of bioethanol are expected to leave the Hallein biorefinery in early 2021.
Austria’s first plant to produce second-generation bioethanol is being built in Hallein. The feedstock will be wood sugar instead of anything that could potentially be used as food or animal feed. When completed, we should be able to replace around one percent of gasoline consumption in Austria and reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 50 000 tonnes, ended Jörg Harbring.
About AustroCel Hallein
Located just 15 km south of Salzburg, Austria, AustroCel Hallein has a pulp production capacity of 155 000 tonnes per annum. The mill uses around 900 000 m3 of spruce pulpwood primarily from Germany and Austria, with smaller quantities coming from Eastern Europe. Around 90 percent of the wood is certified to PEFC standards.
The largest proportion of the wood is supplied as woodchips from sawmills. With a 90 MW recovery boiler, a 30 MW biomass-fired power plant, and a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), the pulp mill supplies around 110 GWh of heat to the Salzburg district heating network, 90 GWh of electricity and 80 GWh of biogas.