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Norske Skog Launching Wood Biomass-to-Liquids Joint Venture with Norwegian Forest Owners

Simplified wood biomass-to-liquids process. Click to enlarge.

Norske Skog, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of newsprint and magazine paper, in cooperation with Norwegian forest owners, is establishing a joint venture to develop and produce synthetic fuels from Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL) processes. A prototype facility will be built in connection with Norske Skog Follum at Hønefoss, Norway.

The prime focus of the project is on Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthetic diesel production from woody biomass, but the effort will also consider other lignocellulosic biofuels, according to Dr. Klaus Schöffel, Vice President Energy, Norske Skog.

High temperature gasification requires extensive pre-treatment of woody biomass feedstock. Wood in its natural state has an optimum gasification temperature that is low due to the high oxygen-carbon ratio of the fuel and the moisture content. In gasifiers, wood generally over-oxidizes, leading to thermodynamic losses. Pre-treatment can address this and solve the tar removal problem downstream the gasifier, according to Dr. Schöffel. Both pyrolysis and torrefaction are relevant pre-treatment options.

The new company will be jointly owned by Norske Skog (60%) and the forest owner cooperatives (40$), and will be established with equity of NOK 30 million (US$5.5 million). The investment in a prototype for BTL production at Follum is estimated at NOK 100 - 200 million US$18.3 - 36.7 million). Further capitalization will be decided at a later date.

Norske Skog intends to establish full-scale biofuel production. Such a plant will require 1-1.5 million cubic meters of wood per year and will produce 65,000 - 100,000 tonnes of synthetic diesel fuel, corresponding to 4-6% of Norway’s overall consumption of diesel in the transport sector. The long-term objective is to develop a global enterprise in synthetic diesel production and sale.

Norske Skog and StatoilHydro have been carrying out a joint feasibility study relating to the production of synthetic diesel from wood via gasification and Fischer-Tropsch processing. (Earlier post.)




With oil at $100 per barrel there are better things to do with wood chips than make paper. A paper mill has a huge head start over other BTL entrants as they have solved the logistics of bulk materials moving in and out. If they can't do this profitably then I doubt anyone can.

Mark A

Best idea ever (tongue in cheek).


While better than letting the wood decompose to CO2, FT is still very inefficient compared to other biofuels (furans).
It would be much more efficient to firstly convert the cellulose in the biomass to furans (Dimethylfuran), and then convert the 'waste biomass' to other biofuels using FT.


As near as I can tell, torrefaction is just cooking some of the moisture out of the wood at lower temperatures before gasification. Since the mass has to be heated anyway, this does not seem like major loss in the process.


I hope they come up with something useful. In my part of Northern California, biomass is used commercially for electrical generation by burning and creating steam. A local experiment in gasification did not succeed.


There was a project to gasify rice straw in the Sacramento area to reduce pollution from burning it. I think that it was just a pilot trial program and I do not know what became of it.


I have been reading about a corn stover to syngas project at the University of Minnesota. Since NG has gone up in price, they decided to heat and power the campus and city with corn stover syngas. They have something like 600 million tons of stover to use. Sounded to me like a good idea.

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