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VTT and St1 to pilot gas-to-liquid at Jokioinen ethanol biorefinery

In Finland, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) and St1 Renewable Energy Oy, a subsidiary of oil refiner, renewable fuel producer, and distributor St1 Group have launched a unique experiment to produce hydrocarbons from industrial carbon dioxide (CO2), which can be refined to fossil-free petrol, diesel, and chemicals. The duo will carry out pilot-scale experiments at St1's Jokioinen ethanol biorefinery this autumn.

The pilot plant is part of a two-year project called Bioeconomy+, which is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, VTT and a number of partners. All the piloted units and equipment will be available for interested stakeholders to use in other process environments and projects.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) and St1 Renewable Energy Oy have launched a unique experiment to produce hydrocarbons from industrial carbon dioxide (CO2), which can be refined to fossil-free petrol, diesel, and chemicals. The pilot-scale experiments will be carried out at St1’s Jokioinen ethanol biorefinery this autumn (photo courtesy VTT).

The object of the Bioeconomy+ project is to demonstrate how hydrocarbons can be produced in a climate-friendly way from carbon dioxide (CO2) extracted from the bioethanol production and from hydrogen (H2) produced by electrolysis of water. The pilot is due to begin in October and run for approximately five weeks at St1’s Jokioinen biorefinery.

St1 is extremely excited about the project, as St1’s process for turning waste into fuel-grade ethanol also produces renewable carbon dioxide and, on the other hand, as our strategy is to develop sophisticated renewable fuels to replace imported fossil fuels, said Patrick Pitkänen from St1 Renewable Energy.

The pilot plant consists of integrated mobile containers: a unit for processing CO2, a hydrogen production unit and a synthesis unit for turning the CO2 and the hydrogen into liquid and solid hydrocarbons.

Our goal is to create new business opportunities for example to fuel and chemical producers. In addition to piloting, we will also be evaluating the techno-economic viability of a range of industrial processes that rely on carbon dioxide, explained Janne Kärki, Project Manager from VTT.

The objective of the Bioeconomy+ project is to demonstrate how hydrocarbons can be produced in a climate-friendly way from carbon dioxide (CO2) extracted from the bioethanol production and from hydrogen (H2) produced by electrolysis of water. The pilot is due to begin in October 2018 at St1’s Jokioinen biorefinery (photo courtesy VTT).

The project is part of VTT’s strategic research initiative to find solutions for mitigating climate change. Apart from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Oy and St1 Renewable Energy Oy other partners include CarbonReUse Finland Oy, Koskisen Oy, BioGTS Oy, Jyväskylän Seudun Puhdistamo Oy, Ab Stormossen Oy, Valoe Corporation, JAMK University of Applied Sciences, City of Jyväskylä, Municipality of Laukaa, Town of Kuusamo, Mäntsälän Biovoima Oy, Forus Oy, Suomen Kerta Oy and Ineratec GmbH.

We know what the problem is and how to solve it, and we have the money to do it. The biggest challenge lies between people’s ears. The battle starts with new ways of thinking and new processes. The key is to design resource-efficient, recyclable and climate-friendly products, and services. Bioeconomy and innovation are the future. The whole of the EU as well as individual Member States need to act fast to reallocate both direct and indirect subsidies from fossil fuels to these innovations, commented Sirpa Pietikäinen, MEP.

Process outline of the Bioeconmy+ project (graphic courtesy VTT).

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