Value creation by converting pulp mill  flue gas streams to green fuels, TAPPI Journal March 2023


Application: The study presents an economic evaluation of a power-to-methanol process integrated into a pulp mill environment. The study evaluates the mass and energy balance for a process where the flue gases of the pulp mill would be converted into methanol using a synthesis process.

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Author: Hannu Karjunen; Tero Tynjälä; Katja Kuparinen; Esa Vakkilainen; and Tero Joronen
Value creation by converting pulp mill flue gas streams to
ABSTRACT: Climate change mitigation induces strong growth in renewable electricity production, partly driven by shifts in environmental policies and regulation. Intermittent renewable electricity requires supporting systems in the form of sustainable hydrocarbon chemicals such as transportation fuels. Bulk chemical production fits well into a pulp mill environment, given their large volumes, stable operation, and ample supply of biomass-based carbon feed-stock in the form of flue gases. Until now, the utilization of the flue gases from conventional operation of a pulp mill has received little attention. Harnessing these flue gases into usable products could offer additional value to mill operators, while also diversifying their product portfolio. However, electricity-based fuels and products require extra energy in the conversion step and may not be commercially competitive with current fossil products under the current regulation. There might also be uncertainties about future commodity prices. Thus, the objective of this study is to estimate the economic competitiveness and the added value of selected side products that could be produced alongside conventional pulp and paper products. A typical modern pulp mill is modeled in different product configurations and operational environments, which allows testing of various development paths. This illustrates how the overall energy and mass balance of a pulp mill would react to changes in different final products and other parameters. The focus of the study is in synthetic methanol, which is produced from flue gases and excess resources from the mill, with minimal interference to the pulping process. The results aid in assessing the necessity and magnitude of a premium payment for subsidizing green alter-natives to replace current fossil fuels and chemicals. Additionally, the results function as an indicator of the development state of the pulp and paper industry in the turmoil of climate change regulation. The results indicate that power-to-X systems offer one more viable pathway alternative for broadening the product portfolio of the pulp and paper sector, as well as opening new flexibility measures and services to grid stabilization. Market conditions were found to have a significant impact on the perceived profitability.

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