Swedish-Brazilian consortium develops new biorefinery process
June, the kick-off meeting for the project POLYNOL was held. This three-year project is the result of a pilot project in 2012, aimed at building up knowledge and business opportunities concerning the production of "second generation" biofuels and biochemicals via sugars, from raw materials that do not compete with food production. One potential product from sugar is ethanol, which today perhaps is most associated with transportation fuels but there are more applications. The large amount of ethanol produced from sugar cane in Brazil today has begun to find new markets as base chemical, and manufacturing of polyethylene from ethanol on a large scale is already a reality.
Participants at the POLYNOL start-up meeting
A Swedish-Brazilian consortium will now develop a new process concept developed at Innventia for co-production of lignin and second generation sugars from wood in the pulp mill. The feedstock is bagasse and forestry residues which have been pretreated with alkaline fractionation. The process is integrated with a kraft pulp mill when it comes to energy and chemical recovery, including lignin extraction. The ethanol may be partly used as raw material for polymers for barrier materials in liquid packaging which is also manufactured integrated in the pulp mill.
"There are many benefits of integrating production of biochemicals in the pulp mill. There are, for example, already processes and equipment to handle streams of biomass in a cost efficient and environmentally friendly manner. From a business perspective, the new concept involves entirely new products in the pulp mill's portfolio, which is well suited to the global demand for renewable products," says Niklas Berglin, project manager for POLYNOL.
"Part of the project is financed by the Swedish Energy Agency in order to study the possibilities for ethanol production, but we will also apply for financial support from VINNOVA – Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems, which will enable further process development for the production of biochemicals with higher value," says Anna von Schenck, responsible for the technical feasibility study.
"Thanks the LignoBoost technology, we now have a concept that makes it possible and attractive to produce ethanol and biochemicals in a way that does not compete with food production," adds Peter Axegård, Director of Innventia's business area Biorefining.