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Outokumpu invests in €30m biomass-to-biocoke plant in Finland

Stainless steel producer Outokumpu has decided to invest in a pelletising plant to produce biocoke at its site in Tornio, Finland. The investment is approximately €30 million and the aim is to start production mid-2025.

The company said that replacing fossil coke with renewable raw materials from biomass is one of the key drivers to reduce its direct emissions in its operations.

The carbon footprint of Outokumpu ferrochrome is 67% smaller compared to the industry average, it added, and a further decrease is targeted with the transfer to using biocoke, which is a biomass-based alternative to fossil coke produced from forest and wood industry residues.
During the past year, Outokumpu has been studying the feasibility of establishing its own industrial-scale biocoke production facility and worked on a roadmap for building up the supply for biomass-based raw materials for the future. It consists of a mixture of own production, external sourcing, and partnerships.

This investment marks the first step, whereby pelletising externally sourced biocarbon into biocoke at Outokumpu’s Tornio site will deliver an annual capacity of 25,000 tonnes.
This helps to reduce CO2 emissions by 82,000 tonnes, which corresponds to the annual emissions of 8,000 Finnish citizens, the firm said.
Biocoke will be subsequently used in the ferrochrome operations as a reductant to replace fossil coke.

The Tornio pilot plant enables Outokumpu to further develop the process and product so that a possible scale-up later could be possible.
As a second phase, the organisation said it will continue to develop the concept for a biocarbon production pilot plant, including how to utilise process side stream gases in the most efficient way.

Further investment decisions are planned to be made during 2024 provided that the financial feasibility is proven.

“Our determined actions within sustainability such as ensuring high recycled content and low-carbon energy sources have already enabled us to offer stainless steel with the lowest carbon footprint in the industry. Work continues to meet our ambitious climate target to reduce emissions across our value chain by 42% by 2030 compared to the 2016 baseline. Fossil coke represents 50% of our direct emissions today. Therefore, a concrete step to significantly reduce these emissions is to replace fossil coke with biocoke which is produced using biomass from forest and wood industry residues”, said Timo Huhtala, general manager for the biocoke project at Outokumpu.

He added: “Use of biomass-based raw materials offers exciting new possibilities to cut direct emissions. We achieved great milestones earlier this year with successful production tests with biocoke, which has given us the confidence to take the next step of building our own pelletising plant.”

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