Reform of the Forest Industry Through Innovation

Developed and produced at the Lappeenranta mill site, UPM’s renewable diesel is a good example of the transformation of the forest industry. Finnish innovation helps the industry expand into new fields. Jaakko Nousiainen tells the story of BioVerno, UPM’s renewable diesel.

The story began nearly a decade ago when the management of UPM was looking into expanding the company’s operations from traditional wood and paper industries into new fields. One of the ideas discussed was biofuels.

Soon enough, UPM started research on converting wood mass to biofuel by gasification. Another approach to biofuel production was to utilise the side streams from pulp and paper production, but initially this option did not get as much attention.

“In a way, tall oil was a spin-off from the original research”, says Jaakko Nousiainen, who joined the research team in 2008. The spin-off had its advantages: As tall oil is already in a liquid state, the research team could move straight onto the final stage of the refinement process.

Tall oil proved to be a productive line of research and UPM’s tall oil-based renewable diesel has been available in service stations all around Finland since May.

“The product fits well in a company like UPM. As with wood, pulp or paper, we have a major advantage in renewable diesel production as we have easy access to the raw material. We are also used to managing large processes and have been learning about sustainability for decades. For UPM, responsibility is a prerequisite for our licence to operate”, says Nousiainen.

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