The new industrial scale biorefinery will produce renewable glycols and lignin to replace fossil-based ingredients in a wide variety of industrial applications. Once operational by the end of 2024, the UPM Leuna Biorefinery will mark the beginning of a new, more sustainable era for the entire chemical industry.
Demand for sustainable chemicals increases along with the battle against climate change
Growing population in combination with higher living standards will result in increasing demand of all kind of materials. Renewable, sustainable and recyclable alternatives for fossil feedstocks are needed in order to mitigate the effects of climate change and the use of finite resources.
UPM's biorefinery will respond to these needs by converting solid wood into next generation biochemicals: bio-monoethylene glycol (BioMEG) and lignin-based renewable functional fillers. In addition, the biorefinery will produce bio-monopropylene glycol (BioMPG) and industrial sugars. The total annual capacity of the biorefinery will be 220,000 tonnes.
What are renewable glycols?
UPM's renewable glycols offer brand owners and material producers exciting new opportunities for improving their environmental performance. Monoethylene glycol (MEG) is one of the most important building blocks used by the chemical industry.
Today, MEG is mainly made from fossil feedstocks like naphtha, gas or coal. Typical end-uses are polyesters (PET) for fibers and packaging materials. UPM's renewable BioMEG meets highest industrial quality standards and will provide a true drop-in alternative for existing production and recycling processes.
What are renewable functional fillers?
The biorefinery lignin will be processed into renewable functional fillers for the rubber industry. Produced from 100% renewable wood biomass, UPM's functional fillers can replace traditional carbon blacks and silica used in the rubber industry. High-volume end-use examples are e.g. tires, hoses and profiles.
Unique technology converting wood to biochemicals
Primary outcomes of the biorefinery will be sugars, lignin and residue streams for bioenergy and biofuels. Main part of the sugars will be further converted through an efficient one-step process to renewable monoethylene glycol (BioMEG) and monopropylene glycol (BioMPG). Lignin will be processed into renewable functional fillers.