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Veolia and Metsä eye biomethanol plant at Äänekoski bioproduct mill

In Finland, Metsä Fibre, part of forest industry major Metsä Group, has announced that Veolia Nordic AB (Veolia) a subsidiary of global waste management services provider Veolia Group, is planning to build a crude methanol processing plant in connection with Metsä Fibre's Äänekoski bioproduct mill plant in Äänekoski. If implemented, the 12 000 tonnes-per-annum biomethanol plant would be the world's largest-of-its-kind.

Veolia Nordic AB (Veolia) a subsidiary of global waste management services provider Veolia Group, is planning to build a crude methanol processing plant in connection with Metsä Fibre’s Äänekoski bioproduct mill plant in Äänekoski, Finland. If implemented, the 12 000 tonnes-per-annum biomethanol plant would be the world’s largest-of-its-kind.

According to a statement, Metsä Fibre has in cooperation with Veolia, investigated the purification of crude methanol generated in the pulp production process into commercial biomethanol. As part of this cooperation, Veolia now plans to build a crude methanol processing plant in connection with Metsä Fibre’s Äänekoski bioproduct mill in Äänekoski, Finland.

Veolia’s plant would be the world largest to produce commercial-grade biomethanol based on this technology. It would also be a natural reinforcement to Metsä Fibre’s bioproduct concept, in which all components of the renewable wood raw material coming to the mill are utilized as various value-added products.

Production start 2023 subject to approvals

The crude methanol refinery planned for Äänekoski would have an annual production capacity of 12 000 tonnes (65 GWh) of biomethanol, which can be used for instance as a transport fuel.

The raw methanol used as a raw material is a side-stream of pulp production, and it is currently utilized as bioenergy in the pulp mill. Biomethanol production increases the refining value of methanol.

Metsä Fibre’s unique bioproduct concept combines the efficient use of raw materials with energy and environmental efficiency. Wood raw material and production side-streams are utilized 100 percent as pulp and other various bioproducts that can replace fossil materials and fuels. The ongoing project with Veolia is one concrete example of expanding our bioproduct concept with a new product in cooperation with a partner, said Kaija Pehu-Lehtonen, SVP Business Development, Metsä Fibre.

The total value of Veolia’s planned investment is over EUR 30 million, and Veolia has received EUR 9,5 million in investment support from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland for this renewable energy project.

The crude methanol processing plant in Äänekoski is planned for a production start in 2023, subject to obtaining all permits, approvals and final investment decision.

Veolia is very appreciative of the granted Energy aid given by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment Finland and this is a major milestone towards realising the project. The project represents a unique opportunity for making an important contribution to the global energy transition towards a more sustainable society and this has only been possible through the close cooperation between Veolia and Metsä Fibre, said Jacob Illeris, Business Development Director, Veolia Nordic.

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