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Metsä Fibre and Andritz eye modified lignin product plant

Metsä Fibre and Andritz eye modified lignin product plant
Metsä Group is planning to build a demonstration plant for a "modified lignin product" in cooperation with Andritz Oy (photo courtesy Metsä Group).

Metsä Fibre, part of Finland-headed forest industry major Metsä Group, has announced that it is planning to build a demonstration plant for a "modified lignin product" in cooperation with Andritz Oy, the Finnish subsidiary of Austria-headed international technology major Andritz AG. The aim is to develop the process to separate lignin from black liquor in pulp production and to further process it for new end-uses.

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According to a statement, the planned demonstration plant would have a capacity of about two tonnes per day and would be located within Metsä Group’s Äänekoski bioproduct mill in Äänekoski, Finland.

An investment decision on the plant is expected to be made during the course of this year.

Strengthen bioproduct concept

In pulp production, lignin which acts as a binder for wood fibres, is removed from fibres. It has traditionally been used for bioenergy production, but it also has a number of other potential uses.

The technical assessment and development of the product for end-use applications is being driven by the leading material science company, Dow. The high-performance bio-dispersant products produced in the demonstration plant could be used, for example, as bio-based concrete and gypsum water reducer used in construction markets.

It is important that we actively develop alternatives made from renewable raw materials to replace fossil materials and feedstocks. This will further strengthen our bioproduct mill concept, which aims to utilise all pulp production side streams into products with the highest possible added value, said Ismo Nousiainen, CEO of Metsä Fibre.

Well studied applications

The potential of lignin in various applications has been studied for a long time. The production of modified lignin and its suitability for replacing fossil-based chemicals in concrete production, for example, has been demonstrated on a pilot scale in a four-year EU project.

The next step will be to assess the techno-economic viability of the technology and the product in a continuous demonstration scale integrated with a bioproduct mill.

The development of LigniOx technology is an excellent practical example of our CircleToZero initiative, which includes new technologies aimed at minimizing and optimizing pulp mill side streams. The development of LigniOx technology has been done in close cooperation with the entire value chain and with the support of leading research institutes. The production of a high-grade lignin product from the side stream of the pulping process creates added value and effectiveness both from an environmental and financial point of view, said Kari Tuominen, President, and CEO of Andritz Oy.

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