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UPM's Lappeenranta biorefinery celebrates 5-year operational milestone

Five years ago Finland-headed forest industry major UPM started commercial production at its Lappeenranta biorefinery in Finland making it the first biorefinery in the world to produce wood-based advanced biofuels. The UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery uses wood-based residual raw material, crude tall oil (CTO), to produce unique renewable fuels that decrease emissions and mitigate climate change.

UPM Biofuels Lappeenranta Biorefinery (photo courtesy UPM Biofuels).

UPM Biofuels Lappeenranta Biorefinery (photo courtesy UPM Biofuels).

Today, five-years on, UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery produces approximately 160 million litres of advanced biofuels and biomaterials each year. These are used to replace fossil-based raw materials in transport fuels and various plastics and adhesives used, for example, in packaging and construction materials.

Our clients can reduce their carbon footprint by replacing fossil-based raw materials with low-emission goods produced by the biorefinery using renewable raw material, said Panu Routasalo, Vice President of UPM Biofuels.

The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of UPM BioVerno diesel are over 80 percent lower than those of fossil-based diesel fuels. When used to produce plastics, one tonne of UPM BioVerno naphtha saves about three tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions compared to the use of fossil-based raw materials.

Annual production of the UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery reduces the yearly GHG emissions equivalent of roughly 150 000 cars on average. Over the last five years, the biorefinery has produced enough advanced biofuels to cut GHG emissions equivalent to taking roughly 0.5 million cars out of traffic for a year.

The UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery has been a key project in UPM’s Biofore strategy, which integrates bio and forest industries. Advanced biofuels also play an important role in the company’s future as our goal is to offer sustainable alternatives to fossil economy solutions.

A world number one

Years of investment in technology and product development have really paid off during the five years of operations at UPM’s Lappeenranta Biorefinery. The biorefinery and its products have been ranked world number one several times: the first commercial facility in the world to produce wood-based advanced biofuels, the first wood-based raw material for plastics and products with a unique set of sustainability certificates.

I want to thank the Biofuels team, our clients and our partners for their excellent cooperation over the years. The know-how of many UPMers is combined in the Lappeenranta Biorefinery and it is a clear sign of our company’s will to take strong steps in promoting the bioeconomy. Our journey has been a success story. But it is not over yet, as our goal is to be the forerunner in the future too, Routasalo said.

UPM built the biorefinery, which cost EUR 179 million, without any public investment subsidies. Construction of the UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery started in summer 2012 and the foundation stone was laid in November of the same year. Construction employed nearly 200 people for approximately two years and now UPM Biofuels employs 100 people directly and around 150 people indirectly.

Panu Routasalo, Vice President, UPM Biofuels.

Panu Routasalo, Vice President for UPM Biofuels, here seen discussing commercial scale-up of the advanced biofuels industry during the 2019 Advanced Biofuels Conference in Stockholm, Sweden.

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