A positive spirit of getting things done is noticeable in the control room and open-plan office at Metsä Group’s Äänekoski bioproduct mill, which started up on 15 August 2017, according to the planned schedule and budget of EUR 1.2 billion.
The mill’s start-up phase has proceeded well, and the production level is following the planned start-up curve. The mill will reach its full rated capacity of 1.3 million tonnes of pulp in the summer of 2018.
During the start-up phase, the mill has been able to ramp up operations gradually, in stages. At the same time, the various departments have looked for the optimum balance between each other and search for solutions where the operating model and control measures yield the best improvement in the mill’s performance.
Highly professional and strongly committed staff have played a key role in the successful start-up. During the start-up phase, bioproduct mill has also been provided with additional resources from Metsä Fibre’s other mills whenever necessary.
The core of the bioproduct mill is its efficient pulp mill, and the network of companies manufacturing various bioproducts around the mill continues to expand. The main products the bioproduct mill will manufacture are high-quality softwood and birch pulp for use as a raw material for paperboard, tissue and printing paper, and speciality products. One of the central ideas behind the bioproduct mill is to expand the product range to entirely new bioproducts. So far, the mill and its ecosystem have started to produce product gas, biogas and sulphuric acid. The mill also produces traditional biochemicals, such as tall oil, turpentine and bioenergy.
Focus on safety, the environment and production
The three central themes at the mill are safety, the environment and production. As the rate of production accelerates, the focus of work at the bioproduct mill will shift to continuously developing the operating models and product quality.
The bioproduct mill has operated within the applicable environmental permit conditions from the very beginning. A few process malfunctions resulting in short-term odour or dust emissions have occurred during the start-up phase of the bioproduct mill. They have been unfortunate, but harmless to the environment.
The bioproduct mill represents the highest levels of energy, material and environmental efficiency in the world. Although its production capacity is nearly triple that of the previous pulp mill at Äänekoski, it can operate within the emission limits of the previous mill’s environmental permit and wastewater permit conditions. Its emissions will not affect the recreational or other use of the natural water system. Odorous gases are converted into sulphuric acid, which the bioproduct mill needs in the manufacturing of the important bioproduct tall oil, among other things.