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Forced to lay off all at LTU Green Fuels

Published: 25 November 2015

LTU Green Fuels is one of the world's most advanced pilot plant for gasification of various biomass to synthesis gas and green fuels. The focus is to replace fossil oil with green fuels. Now the entire facilityis may closure and unique collective expertise of the staff is lost. The reason is lack of research funding.

–No system in the world has run as much and as successfully as we have done. Several of the processes involved in the plant have been patented and demonstrated for the first time in the world, at LTU Green Fuels facility. There are international processing providers who are ready to build and provide assurance process, based on our results, but with the current policy instruments they can not compete with fossil fuels, says Richard Gebart professor and head of research at LTU Green Fuels at Luleå University of Technology.

Meeting with the Minister for Energy

– Even Though we have given notice to the staff we still hope to solve the funding to operate the plant on. We have a positive dialogue with the Energy Agency and the next week we have a meeting with the energy minister, Ibrahim Baylan in the same case, says Richard Gebart.

The university's research facility in Piteå, Green Fuels is the world's only process plant BioDME and bio-methanol, based on 100% renewable raw material. Process can make a major contribution to making Swedish transport free of fossil fuels. The plant is based on black liquor that is a by-product in the manufacture of pulp and available in large quantities at the Swedish mills. Estimates show that up to 25% of today's consumption of fuel, equivalent to about 20 TWh / year, could be replaced by fossil-free fuels produced at the Swedish mills.

In total, close to 1,000 tons BioDME have been produced in the plant to be used in field trials with a new type of trucks. BioDME trucks have been developed by Volvo and the successful field trials have been conducted in collaboration with a number of commercial fleet operators. Due to the slow ongoing research projekt, which reached all the goals and had great success, ending in May and no new funding has so far been decided. The threat of a facility of closure. At the same time, there is a need of the plant if Sweden is to reach the goal of a zero carbon transport systems by 2030.

Important skills of staff

- If we are to have a fossil-free transportation system in 2030 we will need 20 plants of the same kind as our pilot plant to manufacture renewable fuels in sufficient quantity. Our staff possess precisely the skills that are valuable to the industry in the kind of large plants will be built. It is therefore of great importance to maintain the system intact so that knowledge can be utilized when the full-scale plants will be constructed, said Richard Gebart.