Sweden's first slurry hydrocracker for forest-based green diesel has been inaugurated in Piteå. The technology will be used to test and develop pathways to liquefy lignin as well as convert lignin to renewable biofuels.
Lignin is a major component in wood which is why finding a method of cracking lignin can be an important pathway to increase the availability of biofuels for the transportation sector. The Swedish forest offers fantastic opportunities to reduce Sweden’s dependence on fossil fuels. Estimates suggest that over two million tonnes of black liquor can be recovered annually from Swedish pulp production which could provide a significant amount of renewable fuels.
Our vision is to be a leader in the transition to a sustainable society. Being a leader also means that we sometimes have to take calculated risks. However, we do not see a risk with the slurry hydrocracker, but we see it as a very exciting pilot, which we will benefit greatly. The expected future reduction requirement for fuel is good and gives us for the first time long-term rules of the game, said Petter Holland, CEO of Preem, one of the largest oilrefiners in Sweden and one of the project financiers.
The slurry hydrocracker is located at the Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) Energy Technology Center, (ETC), in Piteå, Sweden and it is the first-of-its-kind in the country. It provides an opportunity to study the entire value chain – from raw material to biodiesel. The ultimate goal is to create a large-scale national production of biofuels based on lignin, which is a renewable raw material.
The hydrocracker will help the transport sector become fossil free in 2030, said Pia Sandvik, CEO of RISE and also one of the financiers of the project.
In Piteå there are all the prerequisites in the form of a strong combination of a committed industry, research and institute in order to take a process all the way to full scale.
The slurry hydrocracker is an open facility and therefore available to researchers from academia as well as companies. By its size, it is an important step for scaling up methods for cracking lignin-based compoenents into biofuels, such as the development of appropriate catalysts, the impact of various biogas, the process of input into the process, corrosion studies, process and product development.
The entire investment in the pilot plant is just over SEK 13 million (≈ EUR 1.33 million). Behind the plant is a consortium consisting of Preem, RISE ETC, Chalmers University of Technology and the contractor company SunCarbon, with the financial support of the Swedish Energy Agency, the Kemp Foundation, Preem, ETC and RISE.