A tank full of trees.

Ethanol is an alcohol that can be used for a number of different purposes. Most people think of it as a fuel in cars and buses.

Ethanol is currently made from sugar cane, maize, wheat and similar raw materials. Most sources indicate that demand for ethanol will increase and arable land will quite simply not be able to keep pace. The obvious alternative is to make use of forestry waste products such as branches and tops of trees. Waste products from fields can, of course, also be used.

The ethanol pilot in Örnsköldsvik, in Domsjö industrial area, is the only plant of its kind in the world. Methods are being developed at the plant to extract ethanol from cellulose. Since 2004, there has been intensive work on refining the process and the equipment to arrive at a sustainable, profitable method.

Ethanol is produced by breaking the cellulose down into the plant’s building blocks, which are various sugars. The raw material used today for the development work is wood chips from spruce. However, bagasse from sugar cane, wheat straw, maize tops, energy grass and recycled waste can also be used.

The aim is scale up the pilot plant and start commercial production. There is no doubt that we in Västernorrland are leading development. In a short time, the ethanol pilot has generated several world patents and there will probably be more.