OMV, AustroCel Hallein ink bioethanol supply agreement

OMV, AustroCel Hallein ink bioethanol supply agreement
Published: 3 October 2019 - 11 a.m.
By: Martin Menachery
OMV, the international, integrated oil and gas company headquartered in Vienna, and AustroCel Hallein GmbH have recently signed a multi-year agreement to supply advanced bioethanol.

The agreement relates to fuel components derived exclusively from cellulose. Their sustainable base leads them to be classified as “advanced biofuels” and in future they will be added to OMV gasoline to fulfil legal additive requirements. The product will play a part in reducing the carbon intensity of the OMV product portfolio and thereby help it to meet its OMV 2025 Sustainability Goals.

AustroCel Hallein is committed to the cascading use of resources: High-purity cellulose is produced from spruce, which comes from the sawmill industry as scrap; this cellulose is predominantly processed in Asia to make fibers for textile applications. The spruce used in Hallein only contains 40% cellulose and that’s why the incidental material must be optimally exploited to generate the greatest value added and guarantee maximum resource efficiency. When the wood is boiled, so-called brown liquor is produced. In the past this was vaporized and then burnt off. But this brown liquor contains valuable wood sugars that can be fermented via the addition of yeast, after which they can be distilled into bioethanol.

Thomas Gangl, OMV Executive Board member responsible for Refining & Petrochemical Operations: “This is the first agreement concluded by OMV in the field of advanced, second-generation biofuels. It will enable OMV to take an important step towards reducing the carbon intensity of its fuels. In addition to meeting international climate targets, creating added value in Austria is a priority for us. With AustroCel we are delighted to have found such a reliable cooperation partner as well as being able to help strengthen the industrial sector in Austria.”

"Austria’s first plant to produce second-generation bioethanol is being built in Hallein. The feedstock will be wood sugar instead of anything that could potentially be used as food or animal feed. When completed, we should be able to replace around one percent of gasoline consumption in Austria and reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 50,000 tonnes," said Jörg Harbring, CEO of AustroCel.

AustroCel is investing EUR 42 mn in building the bioethanol plant, which will make it one of the greenest cellulose operations worldwide and a pioneering role model. Preparatory construction work is already underway in Hallein and the first supplies of bioethanol are expected to leave the facility in early 2021.

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