A directive drives tall oil to the oven – another alternative would be refining it into a luxury good

The use of renewable tall oil in chemistry is a part of functioning circular economy. Forchem creates well-being for all by distilling pinewood in its biorefinery in Rauma. It is highly important that this process can be continued in the future.

Crude tall oil (CTO), a by-product of pulping process of cellulose, is a renewable and natural raw material which is used in countless everyday products. The fractions separated and refined from CTO can be used for many different bio-based chemical end products which helps to reduce the use of fossil raw materials. For example, the tall oil fatty acid (TOFA) used in alkyd paint replaces the otherwise used fatty acids sourced from food chains.

The compounds of tall oil are a significant part of the natural defence mechanism of pinewoods. Hence, one of the qualities of tall oil are the protective effects of resin: the resin acids confined from tall oil have antibacterial qualities!

“The compounds of tall oil are a significant part of the natural defence mechanism of pinewoods. Hence, one of the qualities of tall oil are the protective effects of resin: the resin acids confined from tall oil have antibacterial qualities!”

The ILUC directive concerning the indirect changes in land use and the lists of feed stocks in RED II (Annex IX a) are thus far too constricted. The concise list of feed stocks and blending obligation distort the raw material markets. This causes that instead of tall oil being used for production of high added value products, the scarce raw material is directed to burning.

In the cellulose pulping process, for every tonne of cellulose produced, only 30 kg of crude tall oil is generated. The amount generated changes according to the season. In the autumn, and even more so this year, it is extremely challenging to find quality raw material.

Here at Forchem, we regard that when implementing RED II nationally, an addition or an exception needs to be made to restrict the use of some feed stocks on the list (Annex IX a) regarding the blending obligation. In this way, some of the CTO produced can be directed towards chemical industry and by doing so lowering the climate impact of the raw material.

In addition, the feed stock list should be expanded as much as possible. This secures the investments already made to the refinement of fuels and to chemical industry.

Forchem has always strived towards the exceptional quality of production and sustainable practices. We want to continue to respect the jewels of forests by creating high added value products from tall oil in a sustainable manner, both for the environment and economy.

Mikko Rintola
The writer is Forchem’s quality manager
Photo: Forchem

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