Sekab is located in the middle of Örnsköldsvik’s biorefinery area where forest ethanol has been produced for over 100 years. Ethanol is produced from residues from the forest and process industries and provides chemicals and propellants with the least possible climate impact.
At Sekab, we refine the ethanol that has been produced for decades from residual products at the biorefinery in Örnsköldsvik. Since the ethanol is produced from renewable and cellulose-based residue, our chemical products suit customers with very high climate and environmental requirements.
Wood pulp has long been an important industrial product in Sweden. Up until the 1870s it was produced mechanically, but towards the end of the 19th century one had learned how to produce the wood pulp chemically. The sulphite and sulphate processes introduced were common in the new paper mills.
Since the sulphite lye contains a lot of sugar, it was natural and easy to use it to make ethanol. In the autumn of 1909, the first production of sulphite ethanol from cellulose began. Ethanol production became commonplace in Sweden’s sulphite works and in Domsjö outside Örnsköldsvik a chemical industry also emerged, which made use of the ethanol as a raw material. During the First World War, when imports of petrol into Sweden were blocked, ethanol also became an important fuel.
When the sulphite method was used, almost half of the wood that was to become paper pulp dissolved into the lye and was wasted. This produced a lot of residual products in the form of sulphite lye, for example, all of which were pumped straight out into the nearest waterway.
In 1933 it was demonstrated that about one million metric tons of organic materials were being emitted from Swedish pulp mills. Most certainly a bad solution for both the environment and the economy. Sekab’s heart and soul is all about making use of these residual products and refining them into products that contribute to a more sustainable society.
Still today, we at Sekab use cellulose ethanol, or forest ethanol, as it is also called, from the sulphite mill in Domsjö. We use the ethanol to produce both biofuels and chemicals. Using residual products from the existing industry provides a finished product with very low climate impact. Consequently, our products with the best climate characteristics have their base in forest ethanol.
The biorefinery Domsjö Fabriker has evolved from having been a traditional wood pulp plant to being an advanced biorefinery that produces specialty cellulose, viscose and lignin.
Verified sustainable ethanol
In 2008, Sekab’s initiative Verified Sustainable Ethanol established sustainability criteria for the first time in order to ensure low climate and environmental impact throughout the whole production chain of ethanol propellants. It was Sekab that developed the sustainability criteria since there was no definition of what was meant by sustainable biofuels.
BEST stands for Bioethanol for Sustainable Transport and is now a completed EU project that has promoted ethanol’s breakthrough in Europe’s fuel market.
NILE stands for New Improvements for Ligno-Cellulosic Ethanol and it was an EU-funded research project in which SEKAB was one of the sub-programme leaders.
No one wants to buy a car until it can be refuelled and no one wants to set up a pump until there are customers. Nevertheless, E85 became an established fuel in Sweden in just over ten years. Sekab was one of the major drivers of this development.