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Cellunolix ethanol plant to be built in Finland

May 6, 2015 - North European Bio Tech Oy (NEB) has announced the construction of a bioethanol plant on the Renforsin Ranta industrial estate in Kajaani, Finland, which will use locally supplied sawdust as the raw material.


May 6, 2015
By Andrew Snook


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The plant will be delivered by St1 Biofuels Oy, which is responsible for the design, permits and coordination of the facility, and will be operating the plant once it is completed. 

Construction of the plant is scheduled to begin this summer, with production projected to begin in mid-2016. The production capacity of the plant is expected to be 10 million litres of bioethanol per year, and will be leased to North European Oil Trade Oy (NEOT), which engages in oil and bioproduct wholesale trade, according to a recent press release from St1 Biofuels Oy.

“The Cellunolix plant project in Kajaani is a significant new venture for St1 Biofuels, both technologically and commercially,” said Patrick Pitkänen, head of business development and sales at St1 Biofuels. “Our sawdust product development now allows us to produce ethanol from a new sustainable source that does not come from the food chain. This project can be duplicated and scaled up to plants with an annual output of 50 to 100 million litres. The sawdust-based production concept has extremely high export potential.” 

The facility will use Novozymes’ customized enzymes to produce cellulosic ethanol from sawdust. 

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The process uses steam-explosion to open up the cellulosic structures of the sawdust, followed by enzymatic hydrolysis to extract the sugars for ethanol fermentation.

“I am delighted that our enzymes have been chosen for this pioneering project in Finland,” said Sebastian Søderberg, vice-president of biomass conversion at Novozymes. “It marks an important step for Finland and other countries around the world that have ample softwood supplies.” 

“I am pleased to have Novozymes as enzyme technology supplier,” said Mika Aho, managing director at St1 Biofuels. “The collaboration is key in optimizing our production costs that is one of the key elements in commercial cellulosic ethanol production.”

The plant being built in Kajaani represents an overall investment of EUR 40 million, of which 30 per cent is covered by an investment subsidy granted by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy for biorefineries producing transport biofuels.

When completed, the plant will employ 15 to 20 people directly and about 15 people indirectly. During product development, planning and construction, the project will generate about 200 person-years of employment.

The Finnish investor, NEB, is an associated company of SOK Corporation and energy company St1 whose purpose is to build biofuel production units. NEOT, sister company to NEB, is an independent fuel procurement company in the Baltic Sea region. It delivers fuels to major Finnish service station chains – ABC, St1 and Shell – with a total of almost 1,000 service stations. The company is also building a plant in Gothenburg to produce ethanol from food industry waste and residue; the plant will be delivered by St1 Biofuels.

Sources: St1 Biofuels Oy and Novozymes


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