Bio-Ethanol the biofuel from Hallein
Bio-ethanol, the biofuel from Hallein, is considered particularly environmentally friendly, as it isn’t produced from feed or food, but from residual materials from the area of pulp production. In Hallein, bio-ethanol is extracted from wood sugar, which is fermented and distilled. The end product is mixed with petrol and goes on to replace roughly one percent of the annual petrol consumption in Austria. By replacing fossil fuels, approximately 50,000 tonnes of CO2 are saved each year.
The Hallein plant, which is the largest wood-based plant of its kind in the world, produces up to 30 million litres of bio-ethanol per year.
When you see how much value is created by a feedstock which was previously considered waste, it’s hard to believe.
The guiding principle of AustroCel is combining ecological and social sustainability with commercial success. We began our journey from pulp producer to bio-refinery at an early stage. In addition to pulp, green energy in the form of heat and green power are the economic pillars on which the success of our industrial company is based.
The idea of making appropriate use of wood sugar from pulp production has been tinkered with for a long time. The innovative project is essentially based on converting the sugar content in the resulting brown liquor into alcohol. This takes place with the help of modern yeast organisms in a fermentation system, after which the alcohol portion produced is separated from the rest of the brown liquor through distillation. As before, this is then burned to generate energy in the caustic boiler and is then fed to the chemical recovery system.
Starting back in 1941 and lasting until 1988, bio-ethanol was produced in Hallein from the waste liquor from pulp production. In the early years, the fermentation process took place at the “Spritfabrik”, or fuel factory, using open wooden vats up to 400 m3 in size, and the daily production volume was approximately 6,000 litres per day.
AustroCel therefore has many years of process experience and is able to make use of time-proven technology. For the current project, a preliminary technical project and a feasibility study were completed, and in December 2020, the first wagon containing bio-ethanol left the Hallein plant for OMV. 42 million euros have been invested in the new bio-ethanol plant, which has an annual capacity of up to 30 million litres, making it the world’s largest wood-based plant.
At the end of 2020, OMV, the integrated, international oil, gas and petrochemicals company which is based in Vienna, and AustroCel Hallein GmbH, launched a long-term cooperation. Due to its sustainable basis, it is classified in the category of “advanced biofuels”. It is therefore able to fulfil the legal substitution obligation of OMV and be added to petrol fuels. The product will contribute to reducing the CO2 intensity of the product range of OMV, and therefore support the 2025 sustainability goals of OMV.
We are pleased to have found a reliable partner with AustroCel, and we are proud of our cooperation in the interests of further securing the supply of biofuels in Austria. With the use of an advanced, second-generation biofuel, OMV is able to make a valuable contribution in helping to fulfil the international climate goals.
Biofuels in Austria
In the EU, a wide range of directives regulate the use of biofuels. In 2018, the “Renewable Energy Directive II” (RED II) set a binding target of 32% renewable energy for the EU in 2030 and a target of 14% for renewable energy in the transport sector by the year 2030.
An increasing target was also set for advanced biofuels (second generation). The level of the target was 0.2% in 2021, increasing to 1% in 2025 and 3.5% in 2030. Conventional biofuels (first generation) are permitted with a proportion of up to 7%.