New Partnership Aims To Bring Carbon Capture To Wood-Processing Mill

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The Finnish forestry business Metsä Group has teamed up with technology specialists Andritz to investigate the possibility of building a carbon capture facility at the largest wood-processing mill in the northern hemisphere.

The two companies will examine how to build a recovery system, which could capture up to four million tonnes of carbon dioxide at Metsä Group’s Kemi bioproduct mill in Finland, which is the largest of its kind this side of the equator.

The study will determine the optimal size of the recovery system that would be the most energy efficient and the goal is to use the electricity, heat and steam generated in the bioproduct mill as efficiently as possible so that no waste heat is generated.

And if a carbon capture proves viable, it is hoped it could be used to develop a new high-volume wood-based product for the forest industry.

It is thought caaptured biogenic-carbon dioxide combined with green hydrogen could open up a new route to synthetic chemicals and plastics.

The Metsä Group’s vice president of energy, Pirita Mikkanen said in an interview, the company has already carried out a feasibility study into the process.

Mikkanen said carbon dioxide capture is an existing proven technology that has been used for decades around the world, but combining this technology with a pulp or bioproduct mill is progressive.

She added the Metsä Group generates about 12 million tonnes of wood-based carbon dioxide annually, which could be used as a raw material for fossil material substitutes as the related technology and markets develop.

For example, she said renewable hydrogen and wood-based carbon dioxide could be used to produce synthetic methane and methanol to be used as raw material in the chemical industry.

She added the test unit will focus on capturing carbon emissions from the recovery boiler at the plant, but because the temperature and pressure in the boiler fluctuates, it is not as easy as similar capture processes already being used in refineries.

Hence the need to test the concept first, before rolling it out at scale.

The Metsä Group’s executive vice president of strategy, Sari Pajari-Sederholm said in a statement its goal is to process northern wood into increasingly valuable products.

“If implemented, carbon dioxide capture would open up opportunities for a significant new chemical industry in Finland and boost the Finnish hydrogen economy,” added Pajari-Sederholm.

Andritz’s vice president, sales and business development of carbon capture, Klaus Barnthaler said: “The investigation by Andritz and Metsä Group is pioneering work in carbon dioxide capture and the first step towards the production of renewable fuels from wood-based carbon dioxide.

“Efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions are increasing the demand for renewable fuels, which can be met by the side streams from bioproduct mills,” added Barnthaler.

Niklas von Weymarn, chief executive of Metsä Group’s innovation arm Metsä Spring, added in an email in a report published this week, the Finnish research institutes VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Natural Resources Institute Finland estimate that the capture and utilisation of carbon dioxide could bring billions to the Finnish national economy.

He added the same concept could be copied in many regions of the world, although Finland and Sweden hold the highest potential for biogenic carbon dioxide capture in the EU.

“On the other hand, implementation would require removing some critical hurdles first,” said von Weymarn.

“For one, the leap to large-scale plants would require sufficient reasonably priced renewable energy availability,” he added.

Secondly, the market is not favourable to replace fossil carbon dioxide with biogenic carbon dioxide, and the synthetic raw-material market is yet to develop.”

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