Paper producer explores biodiesel production

By Kris Bevill | September 16, 2008
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Web exclusive posted Oct. 6, 2008 at 4:35 p.m. CST

Norske Skog, a Norwegian producer of newsprint and magazine paper, has announced a partnership with Germany-based Choren Industries GmbH, a gasification technology company, to explore the possibility of constructing full-scale, second-generation biodiesel production facilities in Norway.

Tom Bratlie, vice president of corporate affairs for Norske Skog, told Biodiesel Magazine the company recognized the possibility of converting woody biomass to biodiesel as a business opportunity for the company a couple of years ago. In early 2008, the company formed a subsidiary, Xynergo, to focus on biofuel production. Norske Skog owns 70 percent of Xynergo while Norwegian forest owners share the remainder of the company. The goal of the subsidiary is to build one or two full-scale biodiesel production facilities in Norway, using woody biomass as feedstock.

Recently, Norske Skog teamed with Choren to further explore its subsidiary's goal. Earlier this year, Choren completed construction of its first full-scale production facility in Freiberg, Germany. Royal Dutch Shell PLC is a stakeholder in Choren and is providing the Fischer Tropsch technology for the biomass-to-liquid process at the facility. The plant is expected to begin production by April 2009.

"Norway has a long leadership tradition in the pulp and paper industry," Choren Chief Executive Officer Tom Blades said. "A strategic partnership in exploring alternate routes for creating value out of the natural resources therefore makes a lot of sense."

"They [Choren] are very good, probably the best in the world on technology for producing biodiesel based on woody biomass and they also have a very competent team which is working on the full-scale production for Choren in Germany," Bratlie said. As part of the agreement, Choren will provide its process technology expertise while Norske Skog will share its knowledge of the paper industry, including how to source and process enormous amounts of woody biomass. "A perfect fit," Bratlie said, adding that a more detailed agreement between the two companies will be finalized in early 2009.

Once completed, the companies estimate that a 71 MMgy biomass-to-biodiesel facility would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 700,000 metric tons per year, equal to seven percent of Norway's current total roadway emissions. "We think that we have been able to pair up with the best possible company in this area," Bratlie said. "But we have to realistic. This is new technology and we have a long way to go before this is up and running."
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