The German economy is undergoing a period of upheaval. The automotive industry is
investing billions in developing new powertrain technologies and mobility services, while
manufacturing industries and mechanical engineering are becoming greener and more
sustainable. Following the phase-out of nuclear power, by 2038 brown coal will no longer be used
for electricity generation and priority is being given to developing renewable energy sources.
And importantly, digitalization is making its way into almost all areas of our lives. And as if all of this weren’t exciting enough, 2020 will go down in history as the year of the coronavirus pandemic. The virus is not only putting businesses and jobs at risk, it is also speeding up some development processes.
THE BIOECONOMY IN SAXONY-ANHALTThe Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-BiotechnologicalProcesses in Leuna is part of the FraunhoferInstitute for Interfacial Engineering andBiotechnology in Stuttgart. The establishmentof the center represents an important steptoward turning the Chemical Park Leuna intoa central, integrated location for biochemicalsand petrochemicals and ensuring that it plays apioneering role in the industrial use of renewableraw materials.A pilot plant is currently being set upwhich will produce green hydrogen for usein low-emission manufacturing processesfor basic chemicals and fuels. The FraunhoferCenter for Chemical-Biotechnological Processesin Leuna and the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructureof Materials and Systems in Halle(Saale) are pooling their resources to build theplant. The project, which is also being fundedby Saxony-Anhalt’s Ministry of Economy, willinvestigate the entire value chain of synthesisgas manufacturing using water, renewableenergy and carbon dioxide. The objective isto manufacture fuels using a chemocatalyticprocess. This will initially be demonstrated bythe two Fraunhofer institutes and subsequentlyscaled up. Ultimately the fuels will be testedin vehicles.global-bioenergies.comcbp.fraunhofer.de“By investing in thebiorefinery in Leuna, weare creating a completelynew business area withsignificant potential forgrowth.”JUSSI PESONENinvesting in the biorefinery in Leuna, we arecreating a completely new business area withsignificant potential for growth. We are helpingour customers to make their companies andtheir products more sustainable. The range ofbiochemicals made from renewable raw materialsis currently very limited.”Ground-breaking ceremony in Leuna: Dr MichaelDuetsch (UPM Biochemicals), Dr Reiner Haseloff(Minister President of Saxony-Anhalt), Jyrki Ovaska(Executive Vice President Technology UPM) andSaxony-Anhalt’s Minister for Economy, ProfessorDr Armin Willingmann.A futurewith hardwoodUPM is investing 550 million euros in theconstruction of the world’s first biorefineryof its kind in Leuna.For UPM the future lies in wood. TheFinnish company is currently investing 550million euros in an industrial biorefinery atthe Chemical Park Leuna. The biochemicalsproduced from wood will allow for the movefrom fossil to sustainable raw materials in anumber of areas of industry. In the refinery, anew generation of sustainable basic chemicalswill be manufactured from hardwood. Theseinclude bio-monoethylene glycol, functionalfillers, bio-monopropylene glycol and industrialsugars.Jyrki Ovaska, ExecutiveVice President Technologyof UPM“Sustainable chemicals made from biomassare one of our company’s three strategicareas of growth and are central to our effortsto develop innovations for a future withoutfossil raw materials. In recent years, UPM hassuccessfully established a profitable businessproducing wood-based biofuels,” explainsJussi Pesonen, President and CEO of UPM. “ByThe Ministry of Economy is contributing around20 million euros to the construction of thebiorefinery. “The new plant gives the ChemicalPark Leuna and the former coal-mining regionof central Germany highly attractive prospectsfor growth,” said the Minister for Economy,Professor Dr Armin Willingmann, at the formalground-breaking ceremony in October 2020.The applications for biochemicals include textiles,PET bottles, packaging, de-icers, composites,medicines, cosmetics and detergents. Almostall the demand in these areas is currentlymet by fossil raw materials such as oil, naturalgas and coal. Alongside their climate benefits,the sustainable fillers supplied by UPM havebetter properties than conventional fillers interms of both weight and purity. In addition,the products can easily be used in customers’existing production processes and recyclinginfrastructures.The combination of renewable raw materialsand new production processes will lead to asignificant reduction in the CO 2footprint whencompared with similar products based on fossilfuels. It is important to the company to havea purely European value chain and to producelocally and sustainably for its customers. Thebiorefinery processes sawmill residues and sustainablycertified industrial hardwood that hasbeen selectively felled. As there is a large supplyof timber in the region, the investment in thebiorefinery supports the sustainable industrialuse of forests to protect the climate and reinforcesthe German bioeconomy strategy.Leuna is a European center of thechemical industry and is also close to importantcustomers in Germany, which makes it theideal location for the biorefinery. This chemicalindustry site in the south of Saxony-Anhalt isan attractive setting for the construction of theplant and, with its existing infrastructure andexcellent connections to other local infrastructures,it is a highly competitive location.The start of production at the refinery isplanned for the end of 2022. The total annualcapacity will be 220,000 tonnes.upmbiochemicals.com/biorefinery3031