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lunes, 6 de noviembre de 2017

The feasibility study of a new large forest biorefinery in Sweden yields positive results

Processum is a subsidiary of the RISE group, part of the Bioeconomy Division, which supports and initiates research and development activities within the field of the biorefineries. It was started in 2003 and is situated in Örnsköldsvik (Sweden). Last month, this Swedish company announced that the feasibility study carried out as part of the project “Flagship Biorefinery” had had a positive outcome (see press release, 19/10/2017). Such project is aimed to investigate the prerequisites to realise a new, full scale biorefinery based on sustainable wood raw material from Swedish forests. Processum has been in charge of the project which has been supported by 13 companies representing a complete value chain.

Pöyry, the international consulting and engineering company, prepared the feasibility study which was presented to the project steering group. The results show that an investment in the proposed biorefinery can be profitable and provide positive contributions to the bioeconomy. Jonas Joelsson, Research Manager at Processum and project leader of Flagship Biorefinery, said: "The results presented by Pöyry suggest good prerequisites for a plant of this type. However, one needs to be aware that the realisation of such a plant is a long process. The feasibility study was the first step, giving the basis for a decision to invest. It will be very interesting to follow the further development of this project in the future."

The planned biorefinery would be based on a sulphite pulping process. It would be a novelty since last announcements about large investments in the sector are linked to sulphate pulping process (see Bioproduct mills – Pillars of the new forest bioeconomy). The following table summarizes the information contained in the press release about it as well as some additional data kindly provided by Jonas Joelsonn.

Existing Domsjö site in Örnsköldsvik.
Scandinavian softwood (sawmill residues and small diameter wood unsuitable for sawmilling).
Products and production capacity
- Cellulose for textile applications would be the largest product. The scale currently under consideration is around 1 million tons per year.
- Several alternative bioproducts were taken into account during the feasibility study: ethanol, methanol, lignosulphonate and proteins.
Similar technology as the existing Domsjö Fabriker Biorefinery in Örnsköldsvik which applies a sulphite pulping process to fractionate the feedstock.
The next step is to investigate how to safeguard sufficient supply of feedstock and how to finance the investment.
If plans are realized as foreseen, the facility could be operating in 2023.

Figure 1. Existing Domsjö site in Örnsköldsvik (extracted from Domsjö website). The future biorefinery would be located there.

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