Biorefinery
Demo Plant

World-leading research and development project

Advanced research and development work

In 2004, what was then called the Ethanol Pilot in the Domsjö factory area in Örnsköldsvik was inaugurated.

Here, Sekab E-Technology has carried out advanced research and development work to verify all the process steps required to commercialise the biorefinery technology that utilises the value of residual products from forestry and agriculture. The goal: chemicals and propellants that neither require fossil resources nor arable land, and which live up to the demands of the future with respect to environmental benefit and sustainability.

Around a hundred different research and development projects on cellulosic ethanol are being conducted globally, and Sekab E-Technology is considered to be among the foremost in the world, especially when it comes to wood as the raw material. The demo plant has been financed with money from the Swedish Energy Agency, the EU and Sekab and is owned by holding companies at the universities of Umeå and Luleå together with Sekab.

In April 2013, the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden took over the overall responsibility for marketing and contacts with customers at the facility. The ambition to broaden the operations for the development of more sustainable products from different types of biomass has already proved successful. The facility was renamed the Biorefinery Demo Plant to emphasise that the focus nowadays is on more biorefinery applications and a wider circle of stakeholders. On behalf of SP, Sekab E-Technology is responsible for the planning and implementation of demonstration trials and the maintenance and adaptation of the plant for new applications.

The operations are financed through a combination of private and public funding, primarily the Swedish Energy Agency and Vinnova.

What is unique in comparison with other development facilities is that it runs continuously through shift work. The operational disturbances in the form of coatings, blockages, material wear and such like that arise in the process of prolonged operation are, together with the integration of a bioenergy combination, of crucial importance to the operating economy of a full-scale production plant. Sekab/SP has experience from about 50,000 hours of operation in the demo facility, which has created unique know-how and knowledge that as yet cannot be found anywhere else in the industry.

This is how we make sugar and ethanol from cellulose

The process developed by Sekab E-Technology consists mainly of four steps: pre-treatment, enzymatic hydrolysis, fermentation and reprocessing.

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Industrial Integration
– with existing plants

Biomass can be pure profit

Energy loss is a major problem in many industries. For example, in condensation power plants only about 30 per cent of the raw material is used in energy production, the rest is cooled off. This is not acceptable for any raw material, fossil or renewable.

By integrating the cellulose-based ethanol plant with other types of industries, the energy in the raw material can be used as optimally as possible. Studies conducted by both Sekab and others show that as much as 75 to 85 per cent of the energy supplied can be retrieved as useful saleable products. Furthermore, if you also have common infrastructure such as existing tank depots, boilers, etc., this will further decrease investments.

If a plant for cellulosic ethanol is integrated with an existing first generation ethanol plant, the manufacturing cost is estimated to be competitive compared to conventional techniques.

The advantage is greater carbon dioxide reduction and almost endless raw material resources.

In the process, lignocellulose is converted to ethanol, biogas and lignin. The lignin can be burned to provide power and heat in the running of both the ethanol plant and the cellulose annex and thus eliminate the need for fossil energy. The biogas produced can also, like the lignin, contribute directly to the plant’s energy balance or be further processed into compressed natural gas and then sold.

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