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Finland first for Dutch pyrolysis technology developers

Finland is set to invest up to EUR 100 million in bio-oil production facilities using pyrolysis technology developed in the Netherlands and sawmill residues. An initial investment of EUR 25 million will be used for the purchase of a single production facility, but the client intends to purchase three more such facilities, bringing the total order to EUR 100 million.

Finland is set to invest up to EUR 100 million in bio-oil production facilities using pyrolysis technology developed in the Netherlands and sawmill residues (photo courtesy BTG-BTL).

Managed by Green Fuel Nordic Oy, the Finnish company will produce 20 million litres of bio-oil per year that will be used for various production facilities in Finland and the Netherlands. The pyrolysis plant will be located next to a sawmill in Lieksa using sawdust as feedstock. The steam released as a result will be used for the internal plant processes. The pyrolysis plant is expected to begin operations in 2020.

I’m convinced that pyrolysis will play a very important role in the bio-based transition of the economy, and this production facility is proof of that. It is the first of a series of investments in future facilities, said Timo Saarelainen, CEO of Green Fuel Nordic.

The project is being implemented by TechnipFMC’s office in Zoetermeer while Enschede-based Zeton is responsible for manufacturing the core unit of the production facility. The technology was originally developed at the University of Twente, and the commercial production facilities are supplied by the firm of BTG-BTL based in Enschede.

The components of the prefab facilities will first be built in the Netherlands and then assembled in Finland on location. The construction of one facility in Finland will generate 100 full-time jobs in the Netherlands.

This contract shows that energy transition can generate a great many jobs for people in Lieksa as well as in Enschede. This agreement is also an important step on the road towards a more sustainable refinery sector. We encourage businesses to increase the share of sustainable raw materials used in their energy consumption. That is also why the Top Consortium for Knowledge and Innovation (TKI) BioBased Economy, which is part of the Top Sector Energy, is involved in the development and realisation of this technology. The collaboration between TechnipFMC, BTG-BTL and Green Fuel Nordic Oy will speed up the development and expansion of this promising technology on an international scale, said Eric Wiebes, Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate.

Developed in the Netherlands

The technology used by BTG-BTL produces raw oil sustainably from natural waste materials via pyrolysis. In pyrolysis, raw materials such as sawdust or grass clippings are heated to approximately 500 °C in the absence of oxygen, resulting in the formation of raw bio-oil.

The Empyro woody biomass pyrolysis plant in Hengelo, the Netherlands.

The Empyro woody biomass pyrolysis plant in Hengelo, the Netherlands.

The pyrolysis technology used by BTG-BTL was in part also developed with financial support from the Top Sector Program of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and is presently being applied successfully in the Empyro production facility based in Hengelo, where wood waste is used to produce oil to supply energy for the FrieslandCampina production plant in Borculo.

We can honestly say that we’re talking about “non-fossil non-food” oil’. Our oil is an excellent alternative for fossil fuels and does not require the exploitation of agricultural land or forests. It really is a sustainable form of energy. The contract with Green Fuel Nordic Oy is an important step in the international rollout of our technology and proves that clients believe in the potential of pyrolysis as a source of renewable fuel. We are very happy that a country such as Finland, which is a leader in the area of sustainability, has chosen to deploy our Dutch-sourced technology, said Gerhard Muggen, managing director of BTG-BTL.

The bio-oil can be used in various ways, for example, to replace fossil gas or fuel oil in industrial applications, but it can also be refined further for use as a transportation fuel and Gerhard Muggen expects the demand for pyrolysis oil to grow very quickly.

Over the last few years, various types of advanced biofuels have been competing with each other in the market. Pyrolysis oil has proven itself to be one of the most competitive and attractive options. I expect other orders to soon follow from other countries, and I think major oil companies will also become involved, Muggen said.

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