The carbonised residue created through biomass gasification can be made into new products with high added value, such as activated carbons.

The Biovalley region aims high

A new kind of industrial concept in the pipeline for Kokkola

Over the next few years, the bioeconomy is predicted to create a lot of new jobs, especially in the industrial integrates where new biorefinery concepts are being developed. The Central Ostrobothnia region around Kokkola known as Biovalley is the heartland of business and expertise in the natural resources sector. It includes the valleys of Kalajoki, Lestijoki and Perhonjoki rivers, as well as the Kokkola and Pietarsaari regions. What makes the area important both nationally and internationally is its strong industrial profile combined with vital primary production in agriculture and forestry. There are also well-functioning logistics, a high-quality research community and an emerging mining industry.

“Biovalley is number one in the regional development programme. We have found a system that brings operators together and is based on raw materials sourced in the region,” says Planning Manager Teppo Rekilä from the Regional Council for Central Ostrobothnia.
The government has recognised the potential of the region’s industry and natural resources and its long-term research cooperation. The Kokkola biorefinery concept is one of the projects for which Finland has sought innovation funding from the EU.
The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) is also planning to open a strategic office in Kokkola when remodelling its network of facilities by 2016.
“The region’s focuses in its development work are similar to Luke’s own aims,” says Bio-based Business and Industry Director Leena Paavilainen from Luke.

Kokkola is home to the largest cluster of inorganic chemistry companies in the Nordic countries; a cluster that offers an interface where the business activities of the biorefinery can be integrated into the chemistry cluster. New products and raw-material can be devolped, and some of the heavy fuel oil used in the Kokkola Industrial Park can be replaced with energy produced through gasification of wood biomass, thus reducing dependency on fossil fuels.

The research performed in Biovalley aims at highly processed products where biomass replaces fossil carbon. Tiina Ylä-Kero, Jana Holm, Tanja Risikko, Teppo Rekilä, Anne Pesola and Olli Breilin are members of the Biovalley network.

The research performed in Biovalley aims at highly processed products where biomass replaces fossil carbon. Olli Breilin, Tiina Ylä-Kero, Jana Holm, Tanja Risikko, Teppo Rekilä and Anne Pesola are members of the Biovalley network.

“The interface of the inorganic and the bioeconomy will bring added value to the competitiveness and regeneration of the export industry,” says the Chair of the Biovalley Advisory Committee, Director Tanja Risikko from Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius.

What does the collaboration between chemistry and bioeconomy actually mean? Let’s take forest biomass, converted into chips, as an example. By gasifying the chips using heat, synthesis gas is created, which can be processed into various chemical products, such as methanol or the raw material for plastics, olefines.

The carbonised residue created through gasification can be processed into new products by extracting activated carbon, which is suitable for water and gas purification. The carbonised residue can be used in lithium-ion batteries.
“One company’s waste is another’s raw material,” says Operative Units Director Olli Breilin from the Geological Survey of Finland.

The chemistry research performed at the Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius aims at highly processed products. The research team lead by professor Ulla Lassi works in close cooperation with the chemical industry businesses in the Kokkola Industrial Park.

The lithium cluster that has grown in Central Ostrobothnia aims to specialise in the production of battery chemicals, and its operations rely on a chain of value from raw material to chemical processing, product applications and recycling. The battery laboratory at Kokkola Campus is unique in Europe. The laboratory focuses on finding solutions for the region’s chemical industry to capitalise on.

“Lithium is included in practically all modern chemical combinations for batteries,” Olli Breilin points out.

The Kokkola Industrial Park currently has 70 hectares of industrial area zoned ready for businesses in the chemical industry.
“Thanks to the infrastructure offered by the park, businesses will be able to do much more and act in a productive and lucrative way,” Risikko says.

The bioeconomy is only waiting for the markets to open. Commercialisation of research results is also a challenge.
“We need more research and advances in legislation. The industrial infrastructure is already there, ready to be plugged into. Now we need financing for new companies,” says Anne Pesola from the regional development company KOSEK.

Chemistry and bioeconomy research, education and business hub

Contact persons: Regional Mayor Jukka Ylikarjula and Tanja Risikko, Director of Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius

Geological Survey of Finland
Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius
Centria University of Applied Sciences
Federation of Education in Central Ostrobothnia
Natural Resources Institute Finland
University of Oulu, Oulu Southern Institute
Technology Centre KETEK Ltd

KOSEK, Kokkolanseudun Kehitys Ltd

Regional Council of Central Ostrobothnia

Town of Kokkola

Kaustinen sub-region

Town of Kannus

Kokkola Industrial Park KIP

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