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Valmet and Fortum announce bio-oil collaboration with Preem

Finland-headed energy and forest industry technology major Valmet Oyj and compatriot energy utility major Fortum Oyj are developing a technology to produce advanced, high-value lignocellulosic fuels, such as transportation fuels or higher value bio-liquids. The consortium duo has agreed on joint development with Sweden-based oil refiner Preem, whose contribution and know-how is crucial now that the project has reached the stage of assessing the entire value chain.

Fortum Otso (“bear”) bio-oil is produced at its CHP plant in Joensuu, Finland. In production since 2013, the bio-oil is produced from renewable wood-based raw materials using fast pyrolysis technology (photo courtesy Fortum).

According to Valmet, the technology is seen as one of the “most competitive and efficient ways” of producing advanced lignocellulosic biofuels to meet European targets for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The project is a natural continuation of the consortium’s earlier bio-oil project with VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, which resulted in commercializing integrated pyrolysis technology for production of sustainable bio-oil to replace heating oil in industrial use. There is an example in operation at Fortum’s combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Joensuu, Finland.

Based on the good results of the previous project phase, the companies are moving to larger-scale testing. Preem’s expertise in refinery technology strengthens the project and significantly broadens the knowledge base required to achieve the best results.

Preem is aiming for renewables to reach 3 million tonnes a year in transportation fuels by 2030, which is well in line with the sustainability and renewable energy ambitions of the companies involved.

Valmet and Fortum’s role is to develop and commercialize production technology for upgraded pyrolysis oil, suitable as refinery co-feed, based on a thermal pyrolysis technology platform similar to Fortum’s Joensuu bio-oil plant, supplied by Valmet. Preem will focus on processing the upgraded pyrolysis oil into transportation fuels under refinery conditions with feasible technology.

The combined research projects are co-financed by Business Finland in Finland and the Swedish Energy Agency (Energimyndigheten) in Sweden. Successful commercial developments are expected from the project by the end of the decade.

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