Mega-order from Finland for Dutch oil from woodwaste energy technology

Finland will invest €100 million in several stages in a new, sustainable Dutch technology that makes it possible to produce oil from waste materials including wood waste. The technology was developed by a successful spin-off from the University of Twente and is used to convert waste sawdust from sawmills into fuel.

The initial investment of €25 million will be used to buy a single production facility. The client intends to purchase three more such facilities bringing the total order to €100 million. The components of the prefab facilities will first be built in the Netherlands and then assembled on location in Finland.

The project is being implemented by TechnipFMC’s office in Zoetermeer, a company listed on both the NYSE and the Paris stock exchanges. The technology was originally developed at the University of Twente; the commercial production facilities are supplied by BTG BioLiquids (BTG-BTL) based in Enschede. The firm of Zeton, also based in Enschede, is responsible for manufacturing the core unit of the production facility.

CO2 reduction. The pyrolysis technology used by BTGBTL is presently being applied successfully in the Empyro production facility in Hengelo, where wood waste is used to produce oil to supply energy for the FrieslandCampina production plant in Borculo. The oil produced in this manner replaces the 10 Mm³/y of natural gas that would otherwise be needed; this is equivalent to a CO2 reduction of 24,000 tonnes per year (t/y) or the annual CO2 production of roughly 8000 Dutch households.

The company in Finland, which is managed by Green Fuel Nordic Oy, will produce 20 ML/y of oil for use in various production facilities in Finland and the Netherlands. The pyrolysis plant will be next to a sawmill in Lieksa, about six hours by car north of Helsinki. The sawmill’s sawdust serves as raw material for oil production and the steam released as a result is used sustainably for internal plant processes. The pyrolysis plant is expected to open in 2020.

Oil in a few seconds. The BTG-BTL technology produces raw oil sustainably from natural waste materials via pyrolysis. In pyrolysis, raw materials such as sawdust or grass clippings are heated to about 500°C in the absence of oxygen resulting in the formation of raw bio oil. In nature, the process takes millions of years but with this technology it takes only a few seconds.

The bio-oil can replace natural gas or fuel oil in industrial applications and can be further processed to serve as fuel for cars, planes and ships. The entire production process uses waste materials as raw ingredients so no extra trees need to be cut down and no extra agricultural land needs to be used to produce the raw materials.

About BTG-BTL. The technology for the production of pyrolysis oil from waste materials was developed over 25 years ago at the University of Twente. In 1993, BTG took over its further development and scale-up. Fifteen years later, in 2008, BTG BioLiquids (BTG-BTL) was established, which works together with TechnipFMC in rolling out the new technology. The first Empyro production facility was opened in 2015 in Hengelo on the grounds of Nouryon – formerly AkzoNobel. In 2018, the facility was acquired by Twente and has been operating independently since then.

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