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Höganäs and Cortus Energy sign long-term biomass "off-gas" deal

Höganäs and Cortus Energy have announced the signing of a long-term agreement to establish a "continuous supply of renewable energy gas and other energy products" on a commercial scale. The deal marks a potential breakthrough in the use of biomass-derived renewable energy gases for industrial processes in Sweden.

Model of the modular 6 MW WoodRoll (illustration courtesy Cortus Energy).

Model of the modular 6 MW WoodRoll (illustration courtesy Cortus Energy).

In Sweden Höganäs AB, a metal powder and powder products manufacturer and biomass gasification technology developer Cortus Energy AB have signed a long-term agreement to establish a “continuous supply of renewable energy gas and other energy products” to Höganäs on a commercial scale.

– This is an important and ground-breaking step on our way to using renewable energy sources in our production. We wish to contribute to a sustainable society, which among other things means that we minimize our emissions of carbon dioxide. To succeed we need innovative solutions that are put to the test in full-scale production, said Melker Jernberg, CEO of Höganäs AB  in a statement.

Probiostål framework

The cooperation between Höganäs and Cortus Energy is being conducted under the framework of Probiostål project. The project is funded by amongst others, the Swedish Steel Producers’ Association (Jernkontoret) via the Swedish Energy Agency (Energimyndigheten). Höganäs is looking to replace fossil gas with a renewable gas alternative such as syngas from biomass gasification.

The deal builds on a Letter of Intent (LoI) that the duo signed in February last year, now with planning, design, and preparation to build a 6 MW “WoodRoll” facility in an industrial zone in Höganäs underway. Cortus Energy has also received funding support from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) via its Climate Step programme for the project.

– The collaboration with Höganäs is particularly gratifying in terms of their global reach, candid business operation, and technological foresight. They are both a demanding customer, and a pioneer in new technology, not just their own, but now also within renewable energy through our project, said Rolf Ljunggren, CEO of Cortus Energy.

Commercial off-take

The first step in the project aims at testing the WoodRoll technology under actual conditions and adjust the process to the demands posed by Höganäs’ metal powder production. As it is a biomass gasification technology, “biocoke” is produced as a by-product.

This, however, is also an interesting and potentially desirable material for Höganäs as it could possibly replace a portion of the fossil coke currently used as the reduction agent in the production of sponge iron powder.

– Our type of production puts high demands on both the type of energy and raw materials. For us, it is an important task and a part of our long-term strategy to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. To succeed it’s important that we commit ourselves and resources to investigating new opportunities, said Nicklas Lång, Senior Vice President Sustainability at Höganäs.

Syngas, the desired outcome of biomass gasification.

Syngas, the desired outcome of biomass gasification.

The plan is to start testing the energy gas in Höganäs production during the first half of 2018. After test completion and assuming a successful outcome, the plant will operate as a commercial third-party supplier of renewable energy products to Höganäs.

This would mean annual sales of approximately SEK 15 million for Cortus Energy as of 2019. It would also represent a breakthrough in the use of biomass-derived renewable energy gases for industrial processes in Sweden.

About Probiostål

The Probiostål project started in 2014 with a pre-study where both the academia and the industry participated. The purpose was to investigate the possibility of producing renewable energy in commercial scale for use in Höganäs’ metal powder production.

Apart from Höganäs and Cortus Energy the following companies have been a part of the project: ABB, Calderys, SSAB, Sveaskog, Södra and Outokumpu.

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