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St1 Etanolix food-waste-to-ethanol plant integrated into oil refinery in Gothenburg

The first Etanolix plant delivered to the international market by Finland-based St1 Biofuels Oy was inaugurated in Gothenburg, Sweden last week. The plant, built for North European Bio Tech Oy (NEB), recycles feedstocks such as food industry biowaste and process residue from local bakeries and bread from shops that is past its sell-by date into ethanol for transport fuel.

The ethanol plant is fully integrated into the functions and logistics of St1 oil refinery in Gothenburg and has an annual production capacity of 5 million liters (1.3 million gallons US) of advanced bioethanol. The integration yields significant synergy benefits in the use of residual heat and cooling and in product distribution. The refinery staff will operate the Etanolix plant.

The Etanolix production process starts with receiving feedstock that has high carbohydrate concentrations, such as bakery waste. The feedstock may still be in its paper or plastic packaging, which is removed during the reception process.
In the hydrolysis stage, the feedstock is diluted with warm water in order to convert it into slurry. Before the fermentation process, the mash is cooled down, after which yeast slurry and enzymes are added. During the fermentation process, carbon dioxide is formed and collected and then cleaned to recover ethanol traces.
In the distillation phase, the ethanol is removed from the fermentor beer, concentrated and then transferred to dehydration. The stillage that remains from the distillation process is collected for further use as animal feed or as feedstock for biogas plants.

St1 is a leader in waste-based ethanol production and production technologies. In Finland, there are already four Etanolix plants and one Bionolix plant that produces ethanol from biowaste from shops and households. The first Cellunolix plant using sawdust as a feedstock will begin production in Kajaani, Finland next year. (Earlier post.)

The Finnish investor of the new Gothenburg ethanol plant, NEB, is an associated company of SOK Corporation and St1, formed with the purpose of investing in biofuel production units. The production capacity of the plant will be leased to North European Oil Trade Oy (NEOT).

NEOT is a sister company to NEB and it is the most significant independent fuel supply company in the Baltic Sea region. It delivers fuels to major Nordic service station chains—ABC, St1 and Shell—with a total of 1,500 service stations in Finland, Sweden and Norway. The Gothenburg plant is the first biofuel production plant for NEOT.

Building the ethanol plant in Gothenburg is a significant launch on the international market for us. Our scalable Etanolix concept is a finished export product. Ethanol produced using our technology generates virtually no lifecycle fossil emissions.

—Patrick Pitkänen, Head of Business Development and Sales at St1 Biofuels

The Gothenburg project has been selected for inclusion in the Life+ program of the European Commission, which provides funding for projects on energy, the climate, environmental management, industry and production, waste management and environmental policy. This project is the first in which an ethanol production plant has been integrated at an existing oil refinery to produce waste- and residue-based ethanol on a sustainable basis.


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