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Biodiesel Production from Tall Oil

UPM announces world's first biorefinery for production of biodiesel from wood

On 1 February 2012, UPM announced it is to invest in a biorefinery producing biofuels from crude tall oil in Lappeenranta, Finland. The industrial scale investment is the first of its kind globally. The biorefinery will produce annually approximately 100,000 tonnes of advanced biodiesel. Construction of the biorefinery will begin in the summer of 2012 at UPM’s Kaukas mill site and be completed in 2014. UPM’s total investment will amount to approximately EUR 150 million. UPM has not applied for a public investment grant for the project.

UPM’s advanced biodiesel, UPM BioVerno, will decrease greenhouse gas emissions of transport up to 80% in comparison to fossil fuels. The product’s characteristics correspond to those of the traditional oil-based fuels and highly complement today’s vehicles and fuel distribution systems.The construction of the biorefinery will offer work for nearly 200 people for approximately two years. When production commences, the biorefinery will directly employ nearly 50 people and indirectly about 150 people. [Source: UPM].

SunPine production of biodiesel from Tall Oil

SunPine AB has pioneered a "Wood to Wheel" renewable diesel process technology using crude tall oil, a residual product of the pulp and paper industry, as feedstock. The company, created in 2006, is owned by Preem, Sveaskog, Södra and KIRAm AB, and operates a €23 million plant in Piteå.

Tall oil can be extracted from pine, spruce and birch. During the pulping process resinous substances in the wood are dissolved and form calcium soaps. This soap is skimmed from the black liquor and subsequently washed and acidified to form crude tall oil. The yield of tall oil diesel from the crude tall oil is high, up to 65-70 percent. The remaining 30-35% becomes pitch fuel, a renewable fuel oil which is returned to the pulp mills. Also other residual products such as sodium and sulfur are returned to a pulp mill. The SunPine production process does not generate any waste. In the future it is also planned to extract other useful substances, such as resin acids and sterols.

The SunPine process step-by-step:

1. Crude Tall Oil is mixed with biomethanol and sulphuric acid. Via the esterification a crude tall oil diesel component is built.
2. In a destillation tower the component is destilled to the main product crude tall oil (CTO) and the by-product pitch fuel.
3. The crude tall oil is then upgraded to a high quality diesel fuel at Preem refinery in Gothenburg.
4. The by-product pitch fuel is a green fuel oil. In the future it is also planned to extract other useful substances, such as resin acids and sterols.