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Vow launches Vow Industries to develop Norwegian biocoal project

Norway-headed technology developer Vow ASA has announced that it has decided to establish a new subsidiary, Vow Industries, which will accelerate the green shift in the industry. The company will develop, own and operate facilities based on Vow’s process technology. Vow Industries' first goal is to build a plant in Norway to produce biocoal for the metallurgical industry, carbon dioxide (CO2) neutral gas for district heating, and biofuel for the petrochemical industry.

Molten metallic iron is tapped from the bottom of the blast furnace. In the conventional ore-based steelmaking process iron ore pellets are converted to metallic iron by reduction in a blast furnace using coking coal.

Molten metallic iron is tapped from the bottom of the blast furnace. In the conventional ore-based steelmaking process iron ore pellets are converted to metallic iron by a reduction process in a blast furnace using coking coal, a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Research is under to look at using bio-coal instead of fossil coking coal or hydrogen in a novel new process.

As part of this initiative, Vow has agreed on Letters of Intent (LoI) with the forest owners’ association Viken Skog and the district heating company Vardar Varme AS. as both are central to the realization of the proposed plant.

Viken Skog will supply biomass to the facility, which in turn will supply clean and CO2-neutral gas to Vardar Varme’s district heating plant. Vow is also in dialogue with companies in the metallurgical industry about the sale of biocoal, which will be the main product.

Demand created by industry in transition

According to the company, demand for biocarbon is expected to increase significantly in the next few years, as a result of large, international industrial groups undergoing a significant green restructuring in order to achieve their goals of CO2 neutrality by 2050. Biocoal will replace fossil coal as a reducing agent in the metallurgical industry.

Technology and solutions from Vow will play a key role in this change. Initially, Vow Industries will produce biocarbon in Norway, but our goal is for the company to be an incubator that can establish more industrial production companies with Vow’s technology. We will show not only the Norwegian but also the international industry, that we have technological solutions that accelerate the green shift said Henrik Badin, CEO of Vow ASA.

Significant investments

An investment of around NOK 200 million (≈ EUR 18.9 million) is expected in the first construction phase of the new facility. This will be partly financed by loans and partly with support from Enova SF, a state agency charged with supporting new technology and innovation within energy and climate.

Vow has a close dialogue with Enova and “has reason to believe” that this project will qualify for support. The final investment decision will be made when the result of the Enova application is made available.

The first plant in Follum

Subject to a positive investment decision, the production of processing equipment will start in the spring of 2021 with deliveries until summer 2022 when the 10 000 tonnes-per-annum plant is set to start production.

This first plant will be owned by Vow Industries and is planned to be built at Follum in Ringerike, some 60 km north-west of Oslo. The area is centrally located by Hønefoss with access to rich biomass resources, such as recycled wood and biomass from sawmills and forests nearby.

In addition, there is a railway siding directly into the industrial area, with good connections to a port for shipping in Drammen for further transshipment to ports along the Norwegian coast where most metallurgical industry operators in need of climate-neutral biocoal are located.

Market with great potential

The first construction phase at Follum will be able to produce 10 000 tonnes of green and CO2-neutral biocarbon, but Vow envisages a large-scale development at Follum, and eventually also elsewhere in Norway and in Europe.

Our goal is for Vow Industries to be able to cover a significant part of the demand for biocarbon from the metallurgical industry. In Vow, we believe Norway can become a world leader in innovation that could solve climate challenges and help industries towards a CO2-neutral future. Then different industry players and environmentalists must work together, as we have recently announced we will do with Bellona, an environmental foundation with considerable knowledge and expertise in biocarbon, carbon capture, and pyrolysis, said Henrik Badin.

The Norwegian metallurgical industry currently uses almost one million tonnes of fossil coal and coke annually, corresponding to around seven percent of the national CO2 emissions. On a global basis, the sector accounts for almost 10 percent of the total emissions.

If we play our cards correctly at Follum, we hope that Norway will start writing a new chapter in its technological and industrial history, which will long outlive the country’s oil era, ended Henrik Badin.

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