Forest chemistry is exactly what its name suggests – a project involving the forest and chemical industries that aims to assess the scope for forestry companies to supply chemical companies with a biological raw material. The project has entered phase B, which involves a pre-FEED study to assess three lines – methanol, butanol and olefins – and two platforms – synthesis gas and a sugar platform.

The project is due to run for two years and is partially financed by Vinnova, which has allocated SEK 10 million for phase B, with a similar amount being provided by participating companies. Each line is being assessed regarding process layout, logistics issues and business models, or in short everything you need to know in order to continue or abandon a project. The final report will be published in December 2014, but the results are proving so interesting that a presentation of some kind will be made of this year’s Almedalen Week.

"During the year we have opened a laboratory at the factory site in Iggesund," says David Blomberg Saitton, the project manager for the methanol line. "We are especially interested in how stripper methanol can be transformed into a raw material for the chemical industry using Valmet’s patent in the field. As regards the feasibility study, this year we have taken a closer look at the chemical process and the technical process layout. Key issues during this work have been efficiency and quality, as well as how the methanol is to be transported.

"The stripper methanol from the recovery process must be refined before it can be approved as a raw material for the chemicals industry. The business concept has therefore been evaluated based on whether the refining process will take place locally at the mill, with the refined product then being transported to a central unit for further refinement for the right application or product, or whether an alternative solution is possible. Issues such as which party does what are also important, as are end markets and the economics of the entire system."

"The group working on the methanol line is extremely motivated and inquisitive," points out David. "It is actually a fantastic subproject to project manage."

SP Systems Analysis is responsible for a large part of the systems analysis work on this project. An LCA analysis has been conducted during the year, using the current Stenungsund cluster as a reference, in order to determine what would happen if some of the raw material were to comprise biological raw material from the forest industry. The systems analysis has also looked at and studied the innovation system, instruments of control and market conditions.

"A model for how to view the innovation system has been described," says Jonas Joelsson of SP Processum, who is involved in the project’s systems analysis work. "A vital issue is understanding the role played by different demonstration plants in a development process. Demo plants of various sizes are important as a means of reducing the risks associated with different stages.

"The project is progressing as planned and we are now entering a phase that involves financial calculations. Issues up for discussion are how big any plant should be, where it should be located and the financial impact. It is important to know all these things so that any decisions made later on are as informed as possible."

"Forest chemistry is not just a project that explores the specific issues surrounding the three lines and the two platforms," says Clas Engström of SP Processum and the project manager for Forest chemistry. "It has also had spin-off effects in the form of a number of additional projects that would not otherwise have existed. We can say without a doubt that our respective industries have developed much closer bonds as a result of the Forest chemistry project."

Within the Biorefinery of the Future cluster, potential suppliers include SEKAB, SCA, Holmen Skog and Domsjö Fabriker. When it comes to recipients, the cluster Sustainable Chemistry 2030 has Perstorp, INEOS, Borealis, AkzoNobel and AGA – major chemicals companies that manufacture polyethylene, PVC and specialist chemical products. A total of 19 parties are involved in the project, with academia represented by Bio4Energy, Chalmers and SP Technical Institute of Sweden.











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