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VTT finds use for forestry byproducts in transport

The novel technology is being actualised under the BTL2030 project at VTT’s Bioruukki pilot centre. VTT

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a sustainable solution to turn biomass waste from forestry into heat, biofuels and chemicals.

The gasification-based technology transforms the forest industry’s byproducts into intermediate products, like methane, which are further refined into renewable fuels and chemicals. Heat is generated in the process and can be used for communal heating plants or the forest industry’s power plants.

In VTT’s recent demonstration, the competitiveness of the technology was evaluated and results showed that 55 per cent of the biomass can be utilised for transport fuels and another 20 per cent for heating. This means a 90 per cent decline in carbon dioxide emissions in comparison to fossil fuels.

In the past, large gasification-based diesel plants have been planned in Europe, but not without challenges.

“Not one of the large gasification plants of more than 300MW that have been planned for Europe has been built yet,” explains VTT’s senior principal scientist Esa Kurkela, in a release. “The almost one billion-euro investment needed together with the risks associated with new technology has proven an insurmountable obstacle.”

“The smaller scale of our solution makes it easier to secure funding for building the first plant based on the new technology.”

In addition, the small-scale approach increases energy efficiency and enables year-round heat generation with locally sourced waste.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), modern bioenergy will play a crucial role in the expansion of renewables. This is especially noteworthy in heating and transportation. Currently bioenergy accounts for 50 per cent of renewables consumption, and the IEA expects it to be the most rapidly growing renewable until 2023.

By: Samuli Ojala