Fortum and Vapo Oy intend to start pilot production of liquefied wood fuel using a fast pyrolytic process. The Euros 3.2 million plant will process 350kg/h of fuel feedstock. Production is due to start in the autumn of 2001. The two companies are aiming to achieve commercialisation of the technology by 2003-2004.

The plant will be able to convert renewable feedstocks such as forestry residues and other industrial waste wood into a liquid fuel which can be used to replace fossil fuel. The process consumes some electricity during the pyrolytic process but the feedstock is biomass which can be considered carbon dioxide neutral from a greenhouse gas perspective.

The fuel will be used initially for heating applications in place of light fuel oil in schools, retirement homes, office complexes and community buildings. Power applications are also undergoing development.

Construction of the pilot scale plant follows extensive research and development during the 1990s. The size of the pilot plant was selected to ensure an easy scale-up route to a commercially sized unit.

The commercial plant is expected to be roughly ten times the size of the pilot. Planning for the latter should start at the end of 2002, with construction completed in 2004.