EcoEnergy SF is investing in first-of its- kind biogas plant in Äänekoski
Biogas plant to process the pulp slurries of MetsäGroup Bioproduct Mill
Envor Protech Oy has developed the technology for the first, commercial full-scale biogas plant that shall use forest-based slurries from pulping process as the feedstock.
EcoEnergy SF Oy – a sister company to Envor Protech - is currently building a biogas plant in the area of MetsäFibre Bioproduct Mill in Äänekoski. Biogas plant shall process the wastewater slurries of the Bioproduct Mill, and turn those into biogas for transportation, fertilizers and solid biofuel.
“Envor Protech has been studying the anaerobic digestion of high lignin content materials for almost a decade. Äänekoski project has been prepared and studied in close co-operation with MetsäGroup. We began the co-operation as soon as MetsäFibre started the planning process for the new Bioproduct Mill in the beginning of 2014”, Mika Laine, the Chairman of Envor Group Oy and EcoEnergy SF Oy, explains.
“This project is first-of-its kind, globally”, he continues. “In the future, there is a vast potential to expand this technology to both existing paper and pulp mills as well as the next generation bioproduct mills still in drawing boards”.
EcoEnergy SF Oy as well as Envor Protech Oy are owned by Envor Group Oy, Eko-Kvintti Oy and Protech AD Services Oy.
Envor Protech Oy is one of the leading Finnish biogas technology companies with several references globally with the state of the art HLAD technology. In recent years, Envor Protech has been investing in a R&D project to develop the biogas process for the lignin-based raw materials. Tekes, the Finnish funding agency for innovation, has given a remarkable support for the R&D project.
“We have studied process variables, different pretreatment methods and conducted a thorough testing program in order to find the optimal process design parameters for these substrates. We were the first to see the potential in this field - that made this investment possible“, Mika Laine continues.
Finnish government has named the development of bioeconomy as one of the key strategic development goals for the future. EcoEnergy SF’s biogas investment was one of the strategic investment projects in Finland, which received the investment support from the Ministry of Economic Development and Employment. The total investment cost is 15,3 Meuros, and the government support is 4,6 Meuros.
The construction work on the site have already started. The biogas plant shall be in ramp-up phase in spring 2017, parallel with the Bioproduc Mill. MetsäFibre Bioproduct Mill is the first new generation Bioproduct Mill in the world, as well as the single biggest investment in the history of Finnish forest sector.
When in operation, the EcoEnergy SF biogas plant produces biogas that shall be upgraded into biomethane for transportation. The technology used for upgrading is based on the membrane technology that has been used already for over three years in Envor Group’s Forssa plant. The gas is pressurized up to 250 bars. The biogas produced can be stored into containers and transported to the places where it is easily accessible by the end-users.
EcoEnergy has initially made an agreement with Gasum Oy on the utilization of the biomethane. There is a plan to build a biogas station on the national main road 4 to service the private and professional traffic. The biomethane produced is also used as a fuel for the internal logistics in the Bioproduct Mill. In few years time as the LNG and LBG market is developing the potential of biogas in professional transportation is remarkable, Laine envisions.
In addition to biogas, EcoEnergy’s plant is producing solid fuel that can replace coal or heavy fuel oil in boiler plants. Traditionally the digestate from the biogas plant is used as fertilizer. However, the digestate from the pulp based biogas process still contains remarkable amounts of lignin, having a high heat value. Thus, the solid residual, is highly potential green fuel to substitute fossil fuels used in coal fired boiler plants.
(Article to be published in Biokaasu-lehti)