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UPM starts basic engineering phase for potential next-generation biorefinery

Finland-headed forest industry major UPM has announced that it is progressing to the next phase with its advanced biofuels plans and has commenced the basic engineering of a next-generation biorefinery. The potential biorefinery would have an annual capacity of 500 000 tonnes of high-quality renewable fuels including sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as well replace fossil raw materials with renewable alternatives in chemicals and bioplastics.

For years crude tall oil (CTO), a residue from the pulp industry, has been used in Sweden and Finland as feedstock (left) to produce renewable diesel fuel for transportation, with a recognized high climate benefit.

UPM will now proceed with a detailed commercial and basic engineering study to define the business case, select the most innovative technology option and estimate the investment need. The technology concept includes the use of green hydrogen in the production process.

The planned biorefinery would scale up UPM’s successful biofuels business to a new level. At the same time, it would further improve the long-term competitiveness and sustainability performance of UPM Biofuels by introducing several sustainable feedstocks and achieving uniquely high CO2 emission reduction compared to biofuels currently in the market, said Jyrki Ovaska, CTO of UPM.

UPM’s solid wood biomass-based residues and side streams would play a substantial role in the feedstock pool. In addition, it would consist of sustainable liquid waste and residue raw materials.

UPM has an excellent position and expertise acquired over the decades in biomass sourcing both in Finland and Central Europe thanks to our large-scale operations in the pulp, paper, timber, and plywood businesses. We are also developing and testing innovative carbon farming concepts, said Jyrki Ovaska.

Kotka and Rotterdam to be evaluated

The products produced by such as biorefinery would significantly reduce carbon footprint in road transport and aviation, as well as replace fossil raw materials with renewable alternatives in chemicals and bioplastics.

During the study, UPM will also review the operating environment primarily in two locations: Kotka, Finland, and Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The estimated duration of this basic engineering phase is a minimum of 12 months. If all preparations are concluded successfully, UPM would initiate the company’s standard procedure of analyzing and preparing an investment decision.

The UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery, with an annual capacity of 130 000 tonnes, has been a showcase of creating a successful new business beyond fossils. Years of investment in R&D and innovation have paid off. This gives us the confidence to plan the scaling up this exciting business, ended Jyrki Ovaska.

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