At last year’s GADDEN Conference, one of the top career fairs for business, law, logistics and environmental science students in Northern Europe, CellMark connected with 140 young potential entrepreneurs who were fired up by our vision of sustainable manufacturing for the paper industry.
CellMark is working to become a global meeting place for entrepreneurs who strive to surpass expectations by introducing environmentally responsible global initiatives.
How that works in the real world is well represented by CellMark’s technology team. CellMark is supporting a pilot program on a massive scale to generate transportable renewable energy from a by- product of pulp production, together with RenFuel.
An Introduction to Lignol®
Lignol® began as concept to lay out a practical pathway to meet the Swedish government’s goal of going totally fossil-free by 2030. This change is not only good for the planet, it makes good financial sense.
The Swedish government estimated, based on new economic research, that a dedicated transition to a more resource-efficient society using renewable energy sources could create at least 100,000 new jobs in Sweden alone. One of most direct ways to get there is to replace petroleum-based manufacturing with biofuels to power up existing cars and trucks.
The power source in this revolutionary new technology arose from a highly unlikely substance: a waste product that is usually burnt away. Lignol® is manufactured from lignin, which is a byproduct of paper production inside wood pulp mills.
“We see RenFuel and our technology as a link between the forest industry and refineries for a quick transition to a fossil-free vehicle fleet. Our lignin oil, Lignol®, provides a major contribution in this conversion.”
Sven Loechen, CEO of RenFuel AB, explained, “We see RenFuel and our technology as a link between the forest industry and refineries for a quick transition to a fossil-free vehicle fleet. Our lignin oil, Lignol®, provides a major contribution in this conversion.” The technology behind Lignol® was developed based on the research of Professor Josef Samec and Sven Löchen.
How CellMark and RenFuel Fit Together
CellMark has developed relationships with global business partners and distributors in the paper industries. When it became clear that Lignol® could be valuable in creating renewable biofuels, CellMark built a test facility together with RenFuel. That facility has already taken the first steps toward industrialization, and is expected to substantially lower production costs below other similar technologies.
One of the reasons that entrepreneurs are so excited about this is that the entire paper and wood pulp industry may be ripe for disruption. The manufacturing of paper and wood pulp combined represents one of the world’s largest industries. Over 40 percent of the global wood trade goes to paper production. As the facilities required to create paper and wood pulp demand such large investments, the barriers to entry have remained incredibly high, inevitably leading to innovation inertia.
That’s coming to an end at last thanks to new technological developments like Lignol®. The paper industry has embraced this new approach to greater environmental responsibility and biofuels like Lignol® are gaining a great deal of buzz. Here’s an overview of how RenFuel turned an industry problem into a source of hope for the future.
The Problem of Black Liquor
Among the largest challenges faced by the paper and wood pulp industries have been dealing with “black liquor.” Black liquor is a dark, thick liquid waste that is left over from the process of turning wood pulp into paper. This process separates out substances such as lignin and hemicelluloses as it breaks down tough cellulose fibers.
The lignin oil or Lignol® can then be passed onto a conventional biofuel refinery, turning what was a waste that had to be disposed of carefully into a boundless source of renewable gasoline and diesel. Lignol® is completely green and is considered a viable source of biofuel under the Paris Agreements, which is meant to curb global carbon emissions and limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Another huge benefit from a practical standpoint is that Lignol® can replace petroleum in existing refineries. Petter Holland, CEO of Sweden’s largest fuel company Preem, said, “Preem welcomes this initiative by RenFuel and Nordic Paper. One of the big challenges of the adjustment into independence from fossil fuels in Sweden is the supply of sustainable raw materials. Byproducts from Swedish forestry, such as lignin, more than fulfill our requirements of the sustainability of the raw material. In addition, the demand of lignin can be met in great volumes. We look forward to receiving the first volume of Lignol® at our refineries and start producing the renewable gasoline and diesel of the future.”
Sven Löchen detailed how government agencies and private companies in the paper industry have come together to make this a reality. “We are very pleased to finally be able to put the product into large-scale testing as a result of the cooperation with Nordic Paper and the financial support from the Swedish Energy Agency.”
Other Possibilities for the Future
An exciting prospect of this new technology is that renewable energy is only the beginning. The process of separating out the components of black liquor offers a strong potential for generating valuable market goods such as carbon fiber, antioxidants and adhesives.
CellMark is committed to embracing challenges and surpassing expectations for a deeper impacts on global sustainability efforts. CellMark’s Energy division promotes the production, trade and proliferation of biomass-based alternative energy fuels and other waste-to-energy commodities for more intelligent sources of heat and power.