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Pyrocell selects TechnipFMC and BTG-BTL to build Swedish bio-oil plant

In Sweden, Pyrocell AB has announced that it has selected the Dutch companies TechnipFMC and BTG BioLiquids (BTG-BTL) to design and build a production facility in which sawmill residues from Setra Group's Kastet sawmill will be converted into bio-oil. It will be the first plant in the world where ‘green fuel’ will be produced and further processed into road transportation fuels at an oil refinery – Preem's Lysekil refinery.

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An aerial view of Setra's Kastet sawmill outside Gävle, Sweden (photo courtesy Setra).
An aerial view of Setra’s Kastet sawmill outside Gävle, Sweden. Pyrocell, a joint-venture between Setra Group and Preem will build a pyrolysis plant adjacent the sawmil to produce a “biocrude” from sawmill residuals that Preem will then use as a feedstock in its Lysekil oil refinery to produce transportation fuels. The Dutch companies TechnipFMC and BTG BioLiquids (BTG-BTL) have been selected to design and build the plant (photo courtesy Setra).

Pyrocell is a joint venture between the Swedish wood industry major Setra Group and Sweden’s largest oil refiner Preem AB. Setra has the feedstock, sawdust, while Preem has oil refineries and filling station network. Bio-oil is an important step in meeting the goal of fossil-free transport in Sweden by 2030.

Our strategy is to increase the value and climate benefit of our products. Therefore, we have chosen to invest in the production of bio-oil from sawdust that can be used as a raw material in the production of biofuels. Through commercial processing of sawdust, we can contribute to the goal of fossil-free transport in Sweden by 2030, said Anders Nordmark, acting CEO at Setra.

The cooperation with Setra is part of Preem’s ambition to produce 3 million m3 of renewable fuel at its refineries in Lysekil and Gothenburg in 2030.

First-of-its-kind end-use

At Pyrocell’s pyrolysis plant, the sawdust will be refined into a renewable “biocrude”, and then further refined into gasoline and diesel at Preem’s oil refinery in Lysekil, on the Swedish west coast.

We are delighted that Pyrocell now goes from planning to construction start of our first commercial plant for the production of renewable raw materials using pyrolysis technology. The supplier of the plant is TechnipFMC with technology from the Dutch company BTG-BTL, said Pontus Friberg, Project Owner and Chairman of Pyrocell AB.

The plant will convert roughly 35 000 – 40 000 tonnes of dry wood residues into around 25 000 tonnes of bio-oil each year using proprietary fast pyrolysis technology developed by BTG-BTL. It will be the first plant in the world where the ‘green fuel’ will be processed in an oil refinery to produce transportation fuels.

Sweden has unique opportunities for greatly expanding the production of renewable fuels within its borders. The construction world’s first commercial production facility of pyrolysis oil for biofuel marks an important next step in our transition to a more sustainable society, said Petter Holland, CEO of Preem.

Fast pyrolysis

The process used to convert the residual waste materials into bio-oil is called fast pyrolysis, and it produces a ‘green’ sustainable product that can be used to replace fossil oil.

Pyrolysis converts raw materials such as sawdust or roadside grass cuttings into raw bio-oil by heating these materials to approximately 500 degrees Celsius in the absence of oxygen. In nature, this process takes several millions of years, resulting in the production of fossil oil, whereas it takes only a few seconds using pyrolysis technology.

The Empyro woody biomass pyrolysis plant in Hengelo, the Netherlands.
The Empyro woody biomass pyrolysis plant in Hengelo, the Netherlands. The plant has been taken over by municipal energy utility Twence Holding as of January 1, 2019. The Empyro woody biomass pyrolysis plant in Hengelo, the Netherlands.

This innovative technology was developed over 25 years ago at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. In 1993 BTG took over its further development and scale-up, and in 2008 BTG BioLiquids (BTG-BTL) was established, which works together with TechnipFMC on the further roll-out of the technology.

BTG-BTL’s pyrolysis technology was in part developed with financial support from the Top Sectors Programme funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Finland first

The technology is presently being successfully applied in the Empyro plant in Hengelo, the Netherlands, which produces bio-oil used to provide energy for the global dairy company FrieslandCampina production facility located in Borculo in the Achterhoek.

BTG-BTL and TechnipFMC have recently been awarded an order for building one production facility in Finland, with the possibility of extending to four units. Here sawdust is converted into pyrolysis oil, which is then used to provide energy for various factories in Finland and the Netherlands.

Our oil is a logical alternative for fossil oil, which can then remain underground. We make use of natural waste residues. Therefore this new technology contributes to a more sustainable world in more ways than one and provides a form of energy that is practically unmatched in terms of the environment and sustainability, explained Gerhard Muggen, Managing Director of BTG-BTL.

Delivery in 2021

Construction of the pyrolysis facility is scheduled to start this year and is scheduled to start production during 2021. The pyrolysis plant will be built adjacent to Setra’s Kastet sawmill in Gävle, about 170 km north of Stockholm, on property owned by Setra. The necessary raw material in the form of sawdust is already available eliminating the need for further transport.

TechnipFMC is a global leader in oil and gas projects, technologies, systems and services with operations in 48 different countries and is listed on the stock exchanges of New York and Paris. The projects in both Finland and Sweden are being managed by TechnipFMC, a global leader in oil and gas projects, technologies, systems, and services.

We have been working hard on this project for a long time now, and we are happy that we can now really start the practical execution phase. We opted for the combination of TechnipFMC and BTG-BTL after evaluation of other technologies and offers available in the market. The reference plant in the Netherlands, the Empyro-project, has played an important role in our decision making, said Pontus Friberg.

Zeton, which like BTG-BTL is based in Enschede, will manufacture the core units of the pyrolysis plants, providing 100 full-time jobs for workers in the Netherlands.

“Interest in this new type of bio-oil is skyrocketing. The fact that Scandinavian countries, which are at the forefront of the push for sustainability, are moving in this direction makes it clear that this product has enormous potential. The oil can be used for a wide range of applications, and the ever-expanding list of new regulations focused on promoting the more sustainable and responsible use of the world’s energy resources is convincing an increasing number of companies that pyrolysis oil is an excellent alternative for fossil oil. Other oil companies are expected to soon follow in the footsteps of the Swedish company Preem,” said Gerhard Muggen, Managing Director of BTG-BTL (photo courtesy BTG-BTL).

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