Ethanol can be produced with over 90% greenhouse gas savings when compared to petrol, as proven by Lantmännen Agroetanol in Norrköping, Sweden– the country’s largest ethanol producer. The exceptional climate performance of this factory is thanks to the ethanol plant being a part of an integrated biorefinery whereby a biomass combined heat and power (CHP) plant, run by E.on, supplies the energy needed for the ethanol plant. In addition to ethanol, the plant also produces protein feed and “green carbon dioxide”.

The ethanol plant and E.on’s CHP are located on Händelö, an island just on the outskirts of Norrköping on Sweden’s Baltic coast. The CHP plant delivers bioheat to the district heating grid of Norrköping, a city with over 100,000 inhabitants. The plant also produces biopower. The fuel is woodchips, recycled wood and other types of biomass.

All of Agroetanol’s energy needs for the processing of ethanol–such as drying, fermentation, and distillation–come from the CHP plant. This means no fossil fuels are used at all– that all of the electricity is renewable.

Grain from the region, including wheat, barley, and triticale, are used as feedstock for the ethanol production. To produce one litre of ethanol, 2.7 kg of grain are needed. Besides the ethanol, an additional 0.85 kg protein feed is produced. But this is not all. Additionally, the carbon dioxide released at fermentation is recovered and used to produce “green CO2”. This is done in a separate unit run by Aga/Linde. The produced volume is 0.8 kg of CO2 per 2.7 kg of grain. Green CO2 is sold on the market to food industries, including the producers of carbonated drinks. Normally, CO2 is produced from fossil feedstocks. The factory can be seen as combined production of ethanol, protein feed and green CO2, using only biomass and other renewable resources.

In the region, Östergötland, an ambitious program has started to introduce “fossil free farming” substituting fossil diesel with biodiesel for tractors and harvesters, as well as for grain dryers. This will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from the ethanol produced in Norrköping even more in the future and eventually make the supply chain 100 per cent renewable and fossil free. Another development is to make protein-rich food products for human consumption from the factory, to satisfy the growing demand for meat substitutes from vegetarian consumers. Yet another development is to use of waste products from bakeries and food stores – discarded bread – as feedstock for the factory.

Visit Lantmännen Agroetanol website to learn more about the project: