• Ron Kotrba

2 Finnish companies advance biobased diesel, feedstock projects

Image: Fintoil

Two Finnish companies, Fintoil and UPM, are moving forward on different projects with the same end goal—to support and build out the renewable diesel industry as Finland and the global economy move toward carbon neutrality.

In February, Fintoil unveiled its final investment decision to build a crude tall oil (CTO) refinery in Hamina, Finland. CTO is a kraft pulp byproduct. The company says it will spend 100 million euros constructing the world’s third-largest CTO plant that will be capable of producing 200,000 tons.

More than half of the facility’s total production, according to Fintoil, will be directed towards making crude fatty acid, or “Fintoil Pine Diesel,” which will provide feedstock for renewable diesel manufacturing. The Fintoil biorefinery in Hamina, Finland, will employ Neste Engineering Solutions’ patented NEXPINUS technology.

The company received the necessary environmental and construction permits to move forward with the project, and construction is expected to begin this month. Fintoil anticipates commercial operations to begin summer 2022.

“Despite the challenging times, our plans have advanced quickly and we have been able to stick to our schedule,” said Jukka Ravaska, CEO of Fintoil. “Once production starts in the summer of 2022, our products will quickly make a major impact in reducing emissions, which directly aids the Finnish government in its aspirations to reach carbon neutrality.”

In addition to crude fatty acid, the distillation process separates rosin, sterol pitch, and turpentine, which are sold for additional refinement to the chemicals, food ingredient and pharmaceutical industries.

In late January, UPM, which operates a 130,000 metric ton wood-to-diesel biorefinery in Lappeenranta, Finland, announced it is moving forward with its biofuels growth plans by initiating the basic engineering phase of a next-generation biorefinery to produce, among other products, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The scale of the new project is 500,000 tons per year. According to UPM, solid wood residues will constitute a large percentage of feedstock for the new plant, but it will also take in “sustainable liquid waste and residue raw materials.”

“UPM has an excellent position and expertise acquired over the decades in biomass sourcing both in Finland and Central Europe thanks to our large-scale operations in the pulp, paper, timber and plywood businesses,” said Jyrki Ovaska, UPM chief technology officer.

UPM is proceeding with a yearlong “detailed commercial and basic engineering study to define the business case, select the most innovative technology option and estimate the investment need,” the company stated in late January. “The technology concept includes the use of green hydrogen in the production process.” UPM is also evaluating operating environments for the proposed facility in Kotka, Finland; and Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

“The planned biorefinery would scale up UPM’s successful biofuels business to a new level,” Ovaska said. “Years of investment in R&D and innovation have paid off. This gives us confidence to plan scaling up this exciting business.”

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