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Metsä Group’s bioproduct mill in Äänekoski, Finland, leads the way towards a carbon neutral society

Picture of Aanekoski bioproduct mill

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Metsa Group
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Metsä Group - Ilkka Poikolainen

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Metsä Group has created the first next-generation bioproduct mill concept, which means they have raise resource-efficiency to a totally new level. The environmental performance of the new Äanekoski mill is very good: even if pulp production increases 2.5 times compared to the earlier mill at the site, the environmental impact remains at the former level. The new recovery boiler is the most energy efficient in the world as it produces 2.4 times the electricity the mill consumes. This allows the mill to deliver significant amounts of energy to the national grid, representing 2.5% of the electricity produced domestically in Finland. In addition, the mill is completely fossil free, as it uses only biofuels, even in exceptional situations such as maintenance shutdowns.

The Äanekoski bioproduct mill has been designed to use 100% of the industrial side streams to produce a wide range of bioproducts within the industrial ecosystem by the site, as is displayed in the image below:

All parts of wood to high added value products

More information regarding the innovations underlying the Aanekoski bioproduct mill can be accessed through this video:

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The new mill generates renewable electricity 2.4 times the amount it consumes. Therefore, the mill also contributes to increasing the share of renewable energy production in Finland by 2 percentage points – providing heat to local stakeholders and renewable electricity to the society.

All the wood to the mill comes from sustainably managed forests, mainly in Finland. In addition to softwood pulp and renewable energy, the mill produces a large variety of other biomaterials and biochemicals.

The mill is a flagship project of resource-wise bioeconomy and circular economy in using both the raw material and the production side streams efficiently. For example sludge, one of the production side streams, is used for biogas production by our partner EcoEnergy SF. The biogas replaces fossil fuels in road transport and industry. The annual production capacity is about 20 GWh, equal to the fuel consumption of roughly 1,800 cars per a year. Another example of circular economy solutions implemented at the mill is capturing sulphur emissions and converting them back to sulphuric acid for the process of the mill. This is an important step towards a closed chemical circulation.

The major investment is bringing more than 2,500 jobs throughout the value chain in Finland, including 1,500 new jobs. It increases the value of exports by around EUR 500 million per year. The new mill will also diversify the structure of the Finnish forest economy and bioeconomy by introducing new bioproducts with high value added.

The production side streams will be utilised for higher added value products within the globally unique industrial ecosystem with the partners. Currently, the partners in the industrial ecosystem are Äänevoima, CP Kelco, EcoEnergy SF, Metsä Board, Specialty Minerals Nordic and Valio.

The new technologies taken to use at the bioproduct mill can be implemented at other mills, too. Taking into account growing global consumption, it is evident that more resource-efficient solutions are needed, paving the way to a more circular economy.