A UPM bio-refinery will begin production this year with hopes of producing 100,000 tonnes of wood-based BioVerno biodiesel annually. Opening this year in Lappeenranta, Finland with a staff of around 200, it is the world’s first commercial scale bio-refinery to produce wood-based biodiesel.
Crude tall oil is a byproduct of the pulp making process at the UPM Kaukas pulp and paper mill, located on the same site. The oil is purified, hydro-treated and distilled to create BioVerno, a biodiesel capable of being used in all current diesel engines. While making crude tall oil may not be a groundbreaking technology, the Lappeenranta bio refinery is still a positive milestone in the timeline of eco-friendly fuels.
Recent tests found that a mix of 20% BioVerno and 80% fossil diesel will run “just as well as any regular diesel,” according to UPM. These results were based on four VW Golf 1.6 TDI cars driving 20,000 km (3,000 km over the average Finlandian’s annual mileage) with additional rounds planned involving the use of busses in the Helsinki area.
While places like Beijing are looking for solutions to their overwhelming smog problems, BioVerno may provide a partial solution. Evergreen coniferous trees perform photosynthesis year-round and species such as the Maiden Hair Tree, or Ginko Biloba as it is more commonly known, grow up to 18 inches a year in their native China. BioVerno probably won’t solve the gas crisis, but the use of coniferous could be used to increase oxygen production while providing an additional source of fuel, allowing all of us to breathe a little easier.