Lahti region develops sustainable business in carbon capture and utilisation
The technology for carbon capture already exists, and the Lahti region is actively seeking to develop it into a new and sustainable business. Pilot projects are needed to develop and commercialise the technology. The most recent of these are the “Vähähiiliset referenssit” (Low-Carbon References) and “Hiiliketju” (Carbon Chain) projects, which combine the expertise of Lahti Region Development LADEC, LUT University, LAB University of Applied Sciences, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Natural Resources Institute Finland and local companies.
According to LADEC’s Business Developer Jukka Selin, the key objective of the “Vähähiiliset referenssit” project is to create local carbon capture ecosystems in the regions, to make carbon capture and utilisation into a sustainable business and to secure regional CO2 self-sufficiency.
“Reference sites help to make the project work more concrete and develop new business through examples. Our aim is to create a model that can be used by the Finnish companies involved in the project for purposes such as export development,” Selin says.
The “Hiiliketju” project will create two internationally significant reference areas for carbon dioxide utilisation in Finland: the Helsinki metropolitan area and the Lahti–Lappeenranta region. Both areas have numerous sources and users of carbon dioxide, but the process of connecting producers and users is still in its early stages. Lahti Region Development LADEC Ltd is involved in the project as a facilitator. LADEC supports businesses to develop new solutions, connects them to collaborate and encourages them to boldly launch experiments based on new innovations.
"The reuse of carbon dioxide is profitable for Hartwall – the CO2 recovered from its own production is virtually food grade." Sami Pohjanen, Hartwall
Carbon dioxide for Hartwall’s bubbles
Companies in the Lahti region have been capturing carbon dioxide for several years. Large local companies mainly reuse carbon dioxide in their own production.
Hartwall reuses the carbon dioxide recovered from the beer fermentation process to carbonate its soft drinks. According to Energy and Automation Manager Sami Pohjanen, the reuse of carbon dioxide is profitable for Hartwall, as the CO2 recovered from its own production is virtually food grade.
“About half of the carbon dioxide we need comes from our own production and the other half is bought externally. In theory, carbon dioxide could also be captured from the flue gases of our heating plant, and this might even be profitable in terms of the price. However, purifying impure carbon dioxide for food purposes would require a major investment in equipment.”
Carbon dioxide could also be sold untreated to other operators, such as the Hollola-based company Carbonaide. The company mineralises up to 5,000 kg of carbon dioxide every day, thereby reducing the need for cement in concrete production for its partner, Rakennusbetoni- ja Elementti Oy.
Ongoing projects are also seeking solutions to carbon storage and logistics issues.
“While we do have gas transporters, we have yet to figure out the best way to transport carbon dioxide. There is no point in transporting it as a gas, whilst transporting it as a liquid would require pressurisation and cooling. At current freight rates, it is not worth transporting food-grade carbon dioxide too far away, either. However, this may not be the case in the future, and we are eager to investigate this issue further,” Sami Pohjanen remarks.
Utilisation of carbon dioxide shows potential for growth
Although the technology still requires further development, carbon capture and utilisation have the potential to grow into a major market and climate-saving business. According to VTT, carbon capture offers a way to halt or even reverse the rise in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
“Technologies for carbon capture, utilisation and storage will offer countless business opportunities in the future,” Jukka Selin reckons.
In addition to the brewing industry, carbon dioxide is needed in greenhouses and in the concrete and plastics industries. All transport fuels and most chemical products can also be produced from recycled carbon dioxide and clean hydrogen. This opportunity has been seized by Lahti Energy, which, together with Nordic Ren-Gas, is currently designing Finland’s largest hydrogen economy cluster next to the Kymijärvi power plant.
In the new production facility, the waste heat from the production of renewable methane will be captured and utilised in the district heating network. Climate emissions will be reduced in two ways: part of the use of emission-generating fuels will be replaced by waste heat from Lahti Energy’s heat production, and carbon dioxide will be captured for the production of renewable methane.
Ferroplan’s Ferropower – partners are needed
Good ideas and partners are also what Pentti Patosalmi, Managing Director and Chairman of the Board of the Orimattila-based company Ferroplan, is looking for.
The Ferropower power plant, designed by Ferroplan and built into shipping containers, converts dirty plastic generated in industry, commerce and households into energy. The plant’s capacity of one megawatt is equivalent to the annual heat consumption of around 500 detached houses.
Ferroplan has the potential to capture carbon dioxide from the flue-gas emissions generated in the combustion process, if they can find a partner who can provide a technological solution for this.
“We are currently exploring different carbon capture technologies. A solution suitable for our shipping containers has not yet been found, but equipment manufacturers are clearly interested in developing one,” says Patosalmi excitedly.
"Clean energy generation and the utilisation of side streams are the way of the future." Pentti Patosalmi, Ferroplan
Ideally, Ferropower would convert all of its side streams into energy, separate the carbon dioxide from other flue gases and store it for further processing.
“Clean energy generation and the utilisation of side streams are the way of the future. The carbon dioxide from our container power plant could be used for purposes such as producing an additive for the combustion process,” Patosalmi suggests.
“As the world’s fossil fuels diminish, all eyes are turning towards other alternatives. These will require close business cooperation and joint development projects, in which we are excited to be involved.”
Business Development Manager, circular economy expert
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Cover photo: Pictured on the left is the biogas plant opened in June, where Lahti Energy and Hartwall have collaborated to capture energy from the mash produced as a by-product of beer brewing. Pictured in the middle is a compressor for carbon capture, which raises the pressure of the carbon dioxide gas captured from the fermentation process to around 20 bar and then transfers the carbon dioxide to the purification process. Pictured on the right is Hartwall’s Energy and Automation Manager Sami Pohjanen