19/02/16 | Interview on pyrolysis oil to Kasperi Karhapää, Manager of Business Development at Fortum

AEBIOM: Could you provide us with some main facts and figures of the production of Fortum Otso Pyrolysis oil?

Kasperi Karhapää: Fortum Otso bio-oil is produced from wood-based raw materials such as forest residues, wood chips or sawdust. Bio-oil is produced using fast pyrolysis technology. A bio-oil plant integrated with Fortum’s combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Joensuu, Finland, was commissioned in autumn 2013. The annual production capacity of the Joensuu bio-oil plant is 50,000 tonnes, which is equivalent to the heating needs of more than 10,000 single-family homes. During 2015 the production was thousands of tons but the plant is not yet running at full capacity.

AEBIOM: What differentiates the technology used by Fortum in the production of Pyrolysis oil?

Kasperi Karhapää: Fortum’s bio-oil plant in Joensuu is the first of its kind in the world on an industrial scale. The plant is unique in that the bio-oil plant is integrated with Fortum’s Joensuu combined heat and power plant. Bio-oil is produced using fast pyrolysis technology.

Please also visit our website to see an illustration of an integrated pyrolysis reactor and video about the fast pyrolysis process.

AEBIOM: What is Fortum Otso pyrolysis oil used for at the moment? What are the other potential end uses in the near future?

Kasperi Karhapää: Fortum Otso bio-oil can be used as a replacement for heavy and light fuel oil in heat plants or in the production of industrial steam. In the future, bio-oil can also be used as a raw material for various biochemicals or traffic fuels. Fortum uses bio-oil at heat plants in Espoo and Joensuu, Finland. Savon Voima, a Finnish energy company, has also started to use bio-oil at their plant in Iisalmi.

In August 2015 Fortum delivered its first export batch of bio-oil produced in Finland to E.ON in Sweden. The bio-oil was tested at E.ON’s Karlshamn power plant, which is one of the biggest peak-load and reserve power plants in the Nordic countries with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts. Based on the test combustion performed at the Karlshamn power plant, bio-oil can also replace heavy fuel oil in larger power plants. In the test combustion, the bio-oil was incinerated at a record output of 175 megawatts.

AEBIOM: How competitive is Fortum Otso pyrolysis oil compared to fossil alternatives regarding quality and price?

Kasperi Karhapää: Energy produced with bio-oil reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 90% compared to heavy fuel oil. Bio-oil is ideal for use in applications where the steam or thermal loads fluctuate. Load adjustability with bio-oil is similar to that of fossil fuels. Even though bio-oil can be used as a replacement for light and heavy fuel oil, it is completely different from fossil fuels in terms of composition and properties. Bio-oil is acidic, so all materials in contact with it must be compatible with bio-oil. Suitable materials include acid-proof and stainless steels and most plastics. The level of oil price affects the demand of bio-oil but at the same time customers take environmental aspects into consideration and targets when making the decisions.

AEBIOM: How does pyrolysis oil fit into the future strategy of Fortum? Are similar plants in the pipeline?

Kasperi Karhapää: Fortum’s strategy has four cornerstones: (1) enhance productivity of the current fleet and drive industry transformation, (2) create sustainable solutions for growing cities and urban areas, (3) increase investments in solar and wind power, and (4) build new energy ventures. Our new vision – the forerunner in clean energy – ties all these themes together.

Pyrolysis oil is part of building new energy ventures and we are willing to grow as a producer of a bio-oil. The purpose is to expand and integrate bio-oil production into some of our own CHP plants after having achieved a good level of production and processes in Joensuu.

For more information, visit Fortum’s website.

Interview conducted by Jori sihvonen & Jean-Baptiste boucher