Stora Enso is investing EUR 14 million to build a granulation and packing plant for lignin, allowing easier packing and handling of lignin compared to powder and wet form. According to Stora Enso’s strategy, lignin is one of the key innovation areas for delivering growth on new applications, such as energy storage, binders and carbon fiber. The granulation plant will be located at Stora Enso’s Sunila Mill in Finland.
Lignin is one of the main building blocks of a tree. Today, the lignin produced at Sunila Mill, Lineo™ by Stora Enso, is delivered as a dusty powder or as wet lignin. It is used, for example, as a phenol replacement in adhesives, as a bio-based natural binder replacing bitumen in asphalt, and in bioplastics. In the future, it can be used as a source of biocarbon in energy storage systems such as batteries for electric vehicles, as bio-based binders in plywood and as material for carbon fiber.
Producing lignin in granulated form enables more effective handling and packing of the product. This further strengthens Stora Enso’s capabilities in replacing fossil-based raw materials, while supporting a more sustainable supply chain.
“This investment helps us in providing our customers with a more efficient way of handling dry lignin and delivering it in bulk containers. In addition to reducing both packaging and transportation costs, packing granulated lignin will be easier and faster compared to the dry powder used today, which requires special equipment,” says Markus Mannström, Executive Vice President of Stora Enso’s Biomaterials division.
The construction of the granulation plant is estimated to begin by the end of the second quarter of 2021 and to be complete in the second quarter of 2022.
Stora Enso has been producing lignin industrially at its Sunila Mill in Finland since 2015. The annual production capacity is 50 000 tonnes, making Stora Enso the largest kraft lignin producer in the world.
Source: Stora Enso, press release, 2020-12-04.