It is still dark when at 6.30 AM in the early morning of Sunday February 5th 2023 eleven colleagues are meeting in front of our office in Enschede. BTG Bioliquids was established 15 years ago last December so we were invited on a special trip to celebrate this occasion. The destination was Sweden, where we had recently delivered our third fast pyrolysis plant to our client PyroCell. And so on Monday we found ourselves in the middle of a Swedish forest where people from Mellanskog and Setra explained to us curious engineers how to sustainably plant, manage and harvest a forest.
They explained how in the forest the logs are cut to size and already graded based on their quality, with the best one used for boards and planks and the smaller and less straight ones going to the pulp-and papermill. We especially liked how they cared for the forest, for example by minimizing ground loading and leaving certain trees standing.
In between sites our hosts kindly offered us lunch in the middle of the forest, a very welcome surprise!
After dinner in Gävle a 30 minute drive took us back to our accommodation in the small town of Älvkarleby where Martin and Ruud both lost the game of cards.
The next day it was time to follow the journey of these logs to their next station: the sawmill. We learned that through careful grading and sorting at least 50% of the log ends up as boards and plank. These are then shipped off to customers all over the world and used mostly in the construction of buildings.
About 10-15% of these logs leaves the sawmill as sawdust. Following this conveyor belt brought us to our next stop: The state-of-the-art pyrolysis plant of PyroCell! At this plant the sawdust is dried and converted into pyrolysis oil with over 90% efficiency.
The plant sends some steam back to the sawmill, which uses it in its wood drying kilns. Setra kindly gave us a very interesting presentation about the current status of the global timber market. After lunch we drove for three hours to Sälen, where the next day we would experience the great Swedish outdoors. First up: husky-sledding!
We took turns as driver and passenger of the sled. Such great animals these sled-dogs. Next-up: snow scootering!
The next day it was time to drive to Lysekil, the location of the Preem refinery which converts the pyrolysis oil into gasoline and diesel. But not before a quick stop in Sälen to determine once and for all who is the best driver of BTG Bioliquids!
Yes it was time for icekarting! These are regular karts equipped with spikes in their tires driven over a frozen pond, does it get any better than that?! After several heats six drivers qualified for the final. There was some dirty driving as these six battled for victory. In the end the winner received a cup which he has placed on his desk in the BTG Bioliquids office back in The Netherlands as a reminder of this great event.
After a stop at the gas station (Preem, of course) we drove to Lysekil were we stayed at a quaint harbour hotel. The next day was Friday and we got up early in the morning to head for the nearby Preem Lysekil refinery.
After a friendly reception Preem explained how they plan to make their refineries carbon-neutral by 2035. Solutions included HVO, pyrolysis oil, CCS and electrification. We had an interesting discussion on co-feeding pyrolysis oil the FCC unit and a quick look at the refinery site, after which it was on to the airport. I think I speak for all when I say we had a fantastic trip through beautiful Sweden. Many thanks to Preem, Setra and PyroCell for their hospitality!