Ethanol from sawdust

Metsäbiotalouden tulevaisuuskuvasto / Forest Bioeconomy Future Catalogue

The production of ethanol from sawdust commenced in Kajaani, north-eastern Finland, in the end of 2016. It was the first industrial-scale production of its kind in the world. The factory called Cellunolix factory is owned by North European Biotech Inc., which is owned by Finnish retail cooperative SOK and the energy company St1. Sawdust is obtained from the sawmill nearby, owned by Pölkky company.

The production process starts by separation of lignin from cellulose, after which cellulose sugars are released and fermented with yeast, ending as sugar. Finally, the result is distilled to 90-percent ethanol.

The production capacity of Kajaani mill is ten million litres of ethanol per year. Ethanol is added to conventional petrol. The mixture is called E85 fuel used in FlexiFuel cars.

E85 is not a new product in Finland, but previously it has not been made of wood. It is sold in approximately 115 St1-, Shell- and ABC gas stations in Finland.

The company has decided to establish a similar but larger factory in Pietarsaari, on the west coast of Finland.

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