KNOWLEDGE FOR DEVELOPMENT OF NEW FUEL
Black liquor is an energy-rich liquid waste product formed when wood chips are cooked to make paper pulp, and used internally in the pulp mills. The Black Liquor Gasification programme has demonstrated scope for gasifying black liquor and producing a fuel instead. The potential for reducing climatic impact is huge. If all the black liquor in every pulp mill in Sweden were gasified, a quarter of all petrol and diesel used in this country could be replaced.
WHAT HAS THE RESEARCH ACHIEVED?
A large-scale gasifier unit was built and commissioned in 2006. Gasification of black liquor used to take place solely in laboratories, on a considerably smaller scale. The large facility has operated for some 15,000 hours. The researchers have, for example, gained a better understanding of the chemical reactions and how to manage disruptions (which take place in all industrial processes). The scaling-up has yielded vital knowledge ahead of the next stage: to build a unit to produce biofuel at an industrial level.
A biofuel has also begun to be tested in commercial traffic by a number of haulage companies. Since 2010, ten trucks using ‘Bio-DME’ (bio-di-methyl ether) derived from black liquor have been on the road. Four filling stations have been constructed: in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Jönköping and Piteå.
WHO HAS BENEFITED FROM THE RESEARCH?
The paper industry, a highly important export sector for Sweden, has become more competitive. Machinery and vehicle manufacturers have also obtained vital knowledge, both of how biofuels can be produced and also of how these fuels function during driving.
This research programme has meant that Sweden, above all in the network surrounding the Energy Technology Centre and Chemrec, has gained expertise that is unique worldwide. Thanks to experience from the programme, the Swedish Gasification Centre was formed in 2012.
“Being able to join in developing new processes for the heavy processing industry, in this case the forest industry, is something out of the ordinary. And it’s even less common for initiatives like this to succeed.”
Måns Collin, former CEO of Nynäs Petroleum and Chair of the Programme Board