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UPM and SEKAB in cooperation for forestry-based chemicals

Press Release   •   Jun 25, 2015 08:20 EDT

Bio- and forest industry company UPM is starting a major project aimed at demonstrating processes for the production of green chemical products using forest raw materials. SEKAB, the Swedish chemicals company, is participating contributing its technology to convert forest product residues into sugars and lignin. The EU is investing EUR 13 million in the project.

- It's fantastic that UPM is taking this initiative to create bio-based chemical products from a raw material that we have an abundance of in northern Europe, namely forests. We are proud to contribute to a project that could reduce oil dependency and accelerate the transition to a more sustainable society, says Thore Lindgren, Executive Vice President of SEKAB E-Technology.

The project is known as ValChem and it brings together expertise from companies in the forestry, chemicals and biotechnology industries. The aim is to demonstrate processes using by-products from our forests as the raw materials to produce chemical products contained in paints, coatings and personal-care items. The project lays the foundation for the full-scale production of bio-based products.

SEKAB's role in the project is to develop and demonstrate its technology, CelluApp®, which extracts the sugars and lignin from biomass such as wood and straw. The technology has been used previously to extract sugar for ethanol production. In the Valchem project the sugar will instead be converted into mono propylene glycol (MPG), which is a platform chemical for many chemical products. Lignin can be used to produce for example, glue and bio-plastics. The CelluApp® technology will be demonstrated in the Bio-refinery Demo Plant in Örnsköldsvik. All wood products used are sustainably produced and certified by PEFC and FSC.

- The ValChem project will play a significant role in the continued development and commercialisation of CelluApp® and we are delighted that UPM has chosen to work with us to develop new value chains for bio-based chemical products, says Thore Lindgren, Executive Vice President of SEKAB E-Technology.

The project will run for four years with a budget of about EUR 18.5 million, of which EUR 13 million comes from EU funding. SEKAB's share of the agreement amounts to EUR 6 million .

- The ValChem project has great potential to become an alternative value chain to the oil-based one and to create new uses of European forestry resources. All parts of the process - the extraction of sugar from wood, the conversion to bio-MPG and the production of lignin-based chemicals - are well developed and are all leading edge, says Dirk Carrez, Executive Director of Bio-Based Industries Consortium in which UPM is included.

Four parties from four different countries are participating in Valchem. The major partner and project coordinator is Finnish UPM-Kymmene. The other parties are Swedish SEKAB, French Metabolic Explorer and German Technische Universität Darmstadt. Read more about the project and the various parties in UPM’s press release.

For more information:
Thore Lindgren, Executive Vice President, SEKAB E-Technology, 070-206 07 72, thore.lindgren@sekab.com

Kristina Nilsson, Communications, SEKAB Biofuels & Chemicals,
Kristina Nilsson, Head of Communications, SEKAB Biofuels & Chemicals, 070-274 99 01, kristina.nilsson@sekab.com

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Society is facing a huge challenge in replacing old energy sources with new ones. SEKAB seeks to play its part in the transition to a future with a reduced demand for fossil fuels and raw materials. We will achieve this through the ethanol we produce and import, turning it into biofuels in various forms and green chemicals.

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