Industrial gases support forest industry’s green transition

As the world seeks to transition away from fossil-based products and replace them with more climate-smart alternatives, craft pulp and board mills have an important part to play. Linde is ready to support the forest industry’s shift into new manufacturing areas where its raw materials and by-products will contribute to the production of biofuels.

“We are currently seeing more bio-refineries being established in the vicinity of pulp mills,” explains Linde’s Head of Business Segment Chemistry and Pulp & Paper, Linde Europe North, Martti Härkänen. “Not only do they use the same raw materials, but the by-products from the pulp, board or saw-mills also serve as feedstock in the production of bio-products.”

The climate crisis is causing companies and governments around the world to seek out greener alternatives to fossil-based products. Meanwhile, digitization and the pandemic have accelerated the slow-down in the production of printing paper. This has led the forest industry to develop new technologies and innovations to explore new, sustainable revenue streams.


Forest bio-refineries support sustainable future

Niklas von Weymarn is the CEO Metsä Spring, the innovation branch of Finnish forest industry company Metsä Group. He says the general business model applied by the pulp and paper industries is changing. This is due to the fact that paper use, which was traditionally the sector’s main product, is no longer growing and, instead, declining in many markets, including the EU.

“This calls for new thinking and also new pulp-based products. The overall demand for products made out of a renewable raw material is also increasing. Many such products could be made out of wood,” says von Weymarn. 

Von Weymarn believes the current expansion of bio-refineries could spell a more sustainable future for the pulp and paper industries. “Most of the new wood-based products these bio-refineries make could be alternatives to similar fossil-based products. In this context, these new products usually offer better environmental performance. Most wood-based products are also recyclable for reuse as raw material and, should they end up in nature, they are also biodegradable,” he says.

“For the moment major investments are being made within the forest industry to meet new application areas for products such as tall oil and lignin that can be used in the production of biofuels,” explains Eva Ålander, Application Engineer at Linde. 

Crude tall oil is one fast-growing product which can be used in combination with hydrogen to produce biodiesel. Tall oil soap is collected from production of kraft pulp and acidified to make crude tall oil. By replacing sulfuric acid with carbon dioxide in its production, sulfur can be eliminated from the process to further boost sustainability. 

Linde is well positioned to supply the forest industry

Linde is a leading global supplier of industrial and specialty gases. The company has extensive experience of working closely with the forest industry to increase the efficiency of its manufacturing processes.

“The new processes in the forest industry require the industrial gases we offer; oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon dioxide,” explains Hannu Leino, Application Engineer at Linde. “Linde's carbon dioxide offers many benefits such as reduced emissions, as well as being more sustainable and more efficient than other alternatives.

Recently, Linde Green was launched, a new product portfolio of liquefied gases with zero-carbon impact, using renewable energy and fuel in production and for transports, together with climate-compensation. The Linde Green portfolio includes liquefied oxygen, nitrogen, argon, and carbon dioxide. To produce these products, a green source is used, either air or recovered CO2 e.g., extracted as a side stream from bioethanol production or chemical processes.

“We are ready to use both our experience and our solutions to support the forest industry as it transitions towards bio-based activities, while boosting its profitability, continues Hannu Leino, adding: “We have the technical solutions and expertise to enable our customers to use our gases in a way that increases the sustainability of their processes. We want to continue to be an innovative partner to the forest industry and bio-refineries of the future.”

See more on Linde Green here.

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