Metsä Fibre is preparing to lead the field in an emerging world where the bioeconomy looms large. Demand is growing for products and energy based on renewable raw materials, with resource efficiency standards requiring us to optimise our use of these materials.
“Growth of the bioeconomy and restructuring of our main market area are steering us away from a concept focused exclusively on a single product. The wood that we use is also our most costly production factor, so obviously we need to maximise the added value that we extract from it,” explains Metsä Fibre Research VP
Niklas von Weymarn
Annual pulp production: 1.3 million tonnes
It has long been common practice to make use of pulp manufacturing by-products. Sales of tall oil, turpentine and bioenergy already generate more than 100 million euros annually, accounting for about ten per cent of the turnover of Metsä Fibre. The proportion of revenues from such co-products could even be expected to double in coming years.
The new bioproduct mill will have an annual pulp manufacturing capacity of around 1.3 million tonnes, comprising some 800,000 tonnes of softwood pulp and 500,000 tonnes of hardwood pulp. At approximately 1.2 billion euros, the facility will be the largest single investment in the history of the pulp and paper industry in Finland, and the largest wood processing plant in the entire northern hemisphere.
Minimised environmental impacts
The environmental impact assessment for the bioproduct mill began in spring of 2014 and was completed at the end of October, with the Regional State Administrative Agency for Western and Central Finland finally issuing the requested environmental and water abstraction permit in January 2015. Permission was also secured to commence operations based on this permit notwithstanding any appeal. An environmental permit was also issued for a bark gasification facility, a waste-to-biogas facility, a co-treatment plant for urban wastewater from the town of Äänekoski, and the Metsä Board wastewater treatment plant.
Even though the bioproduct mill will be more than twice the size of the present Äänekoski pulp mill that it will replace, its wastewater effluent and other discharges will remain within the limits of permit conditions for the present mill. One reason for continuing to satisfy these strict discharge standards is that water recycling in the bioproduct mill will be more efficient than anywhere else in the world.
The Äänekoskibioproduct millwill increasethe share of renewableenergy in Finlandby more thantwo percentage points.
“Use of the very latest and most effective technology in every aspect of this project is crucial from an environmental perspective. This includes minimising water consumption and arranging comprehensive recovery of malodorous gases to minimise odour emissions as well,” explains Metsä Fibre Project Manager
Johanna Harjula, who was responsible for environmental impact assessment and permit procedures at the preplanning stage for the new mill.
Though admitting that the growing need of the bioproduct mill for cooling water will increase the thermal load on local waterways, Harjula notes that preliminary studies indicate that this will have no significant impact on fish movements or on the overall state of the waters. Efforts will also be made to reduce the normal thermal load discharged to waterways by using this heat for manufacturing new bioproducts.
While the bioproduct mill will generate a great demand for wood, this will not overtax the forest resources of Finland. The mill will increase annual use of wood fibre by about four million cubic metres, i.e. by ten per cent. Calculations indicate that annual softwood fibre logging could be sustainably increased by seven million cubic metres and birchwood fibre logging by four million cubic metres in Finland.