As a leading European innovator biotechnology, Finland is putting a large amount of resources into research and development in order to move the country in the direction of a bioeconomy.
A recent article published by Lab Product News provides several examples of this new Finnish initiative.
A non-profit group named the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is one of the groups at the helm of the new movement. One of the biggest changes the group of over 3,000 staff is trying to instill is happening in the country’s pulp and paper industry.
“The pulp and paper industry is struggling to compete with competitors in developing countries,” writes Lab Product News. “The VTT’s goal is to use biomass in their processes, and is developing biorefinery products, biotech and bio-enabled products.”
The overall goals of these innovations is tell help reduce Finland’s dependence on fossil fuels. The VTT has already initiated changes with companies such as Finnish oil company Neste where their mill is currently producing electricity with biomass.
Last month, Biomass Magazine reported that Finland would open the world’s largest biomass gasification plant is Vaasa. The 140-megawatt, €40 million plant will be used not only to provide heat to the plant, but will also sell off excess power to a grid in the community.
“The majority of the world’s energy production is still heavily relying on coal,” said Juhani Isaksson, the production manager of Metso – the company providing the Vaasa plant with biomass. “Metso’s new biogasification technology, including biomass drying, offers a new, cost-effective alternative for large coal-fired plants to increase the share of biomass and reduce the proportion of coal and emissions.”
Vaskiluodon Voima Oy – the heat and power producer that owns the Vaasa plant – estimates that they will be able to replace 25 to 40 per cent of the coal it now uses by opening this new plant adjacent to it’s current coal-fired plant, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by about 230,000 tons per year.
Elsewhere in the country, a fibre production company named Avilon is also looking to more innovative materials in order to skirt petroleum usage. The company has recently begun producing dissolving pulp because, as Avilon CEO Heikki Hassi explains that specialty pulp “is receiving new attention as the availability of cotton declines, due to reduction in suitable arable land with plenty of water and continued rises in price. In addition, the cost of other man-made fibres, such as polyester, is rising due to petroleum price inflation.”