VTT has built a piloting centre aimed at refining biomass at Kivenlahti, Espoo. Bioruukki offers companies world-class platform for new technology development and realisation of bioeconomy concepts. It operates in an area of technology that is important to Finland: bioenergy, utilisation of biomass to make valuable products – such as biochemicals – and recycling.
This is one of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd’s most significant investments this decade, and the largest bioeconomy research facility in Nordic countries. It serves the needs of process and product development operations of companies and projects implemented by VTT and its research partners.
Bioruukki combines VTT expertise in chemistry, energy and biomass processing. It provides the opportunity to study which biorefinery concepts and ideas are both technically and economically feasible. This applies particularly to the development of production methods for biofuels and valuable chemicals. Bioruukki also speeds up the launching of innovations made by Finnish companies to world markets. Espoo offers a good location for operations, because there is a close community of specialists from companies and research institutes nearby.
Through Bioruukki, VTT can make available its entire research volume for bioeconomy and circular economy, which amounts to more than EUR 60 million and almost 500 man-years annually. In the next few years, Bioruukki is estimated to employ some 40 researchers.
So far, VTT has invested EUR 10 million in Bioruukki and the planned further measures are estimated to be EUR 10–15 million. In the first phase, Bioruukki will launch gasification and pyrolysis piloting operations. The installation of other pilot equipment in the 8,000 square metre Bioruukki will be carried out in the next two years.
Boldness and speed to development work
“Bioeconomy based on sustainable use of renewable resources is a worldwide trend. Finland is in good positions to benefit from such growth. Bioruukki has an important national mission to develop new forest-based bioeconomy technologies and speed up their commercialisation in collaboration with companies,” says Petri Peltonen, Director General of the Department of Enterprise and Innovation at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.
“The national Finnish strategy calls for bold research trials and speed to creation of new products and services. It also requires co-operation, renewal and ability to take risks from industrial sectors. What is required now is radical innovations. Bioruukki offers a concrete opportunity for this”, says Erkki KM Leppävuori, President & CEO of VTT.
Finland needs more high-tech investments and new competence- and knowledge-intensive companies and jobs they help to generate. No new business activities or growth emerge without concrete demonstrations. The investment made by VTT on the growth and development corridor of the West Metro region is an excellent example of action needed right now. For its part, the City of Espoo is also committed to creating preconditions for growth and emergence of high-competence jobs,” says Jukka Mäkelä, Mayor of Espoo.
Finland aims to double the value of bioeconomy by 2025
In Finland, the value of bioeconomy is currently 10% of the national economy, and the goal is to double it by 2025.
Instead of individual technologies, both Finland and Europe are now focusing on building bioeconomy ecosystems and developed life-cycle approaches. VTT’s comprehensive research and development services for sustainable development can be applied in interdisciplinary manner to areas ranging from green data technology to complete recycling of waste.
Industrial sectors approach each other
A fifth of Finnish exports consist of mass products of the forestry industry, and in the future too, the reforming forest and chemical industries and related engineering will serve as drivers of export trade. The energy and food industries and agriculture will also rise by the side of the forestry industry, the main driving force of bioeconomy.
Finland is a country with rich natural resources, for which sensible and efficient use of biomass and forest biomass in particular is the key to success. Companies can gain a footing on the world markets only by increasing their value added. It is also a question of how we will adjust to the challenges brought on by climate change.