In 2014, we acquired an extraction and separation technology from US biotechnology company Virdia and developed a biorefinery concept.
The Stora Enso Concept
By using a high-purity xylose sugar stream to extract glucose and lignin, our biorefinery process allows for new application opportunities beyond its traditional markets – in the automotive and construction industry, among others. Byproducts such as tall oil, turpentine and biomethanol and new chemical, mechanical and enzymatic processes boost sugar potential and open up new markets.
With ample access to pulp and paper, we are not limited by feedstock. Our biorefinery concept allows this technology to be integrated into existing pulp and paper mills. This model also allows for extraction of waste materials, which improves bottlenecks.
Integrating biorefinery technology into pulp mills is an important step forward, but it must be done carefully so as not to sacrifice the quality of the cellulose. Sites should also be close to the raw material source, otherwise logistical problems will be encountered.
This is why we are building a demonstration plant in Louisiana, close to bagasse piles and a sugar mill, as this reduces the need for additional infrastructure for leveraging existing facilities.
Creating small, flexible biorefineries which use biomass at a local level will reduce energy and materials imports and help create jobs in farming communities.
Pulp mills could be seen as a type of biorefinery, as wood is separated into components like cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose. Traditionally, their focus has been to produce pulp, not to extract lignin or hemicellulose which are separated and typically burned for energy. However, our Sunila mill is now extracting, drying and commercialising lignin since 2015.