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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Metsä Group: profile of an innovative forest company

While in Helsinki for the 8th Nordic Wood Biorefinery Conference, I connected with Niklas von Weymarn. Niklas and I collaborated on a number of projects when we were both research managers at our respective R&D institutes. Niklas has been with Metsä Group for some years now, and has just moved to the position of CEO of Metsä Spring, a wholly owned subsidiary of Metsä Group. I chatted with Niklas about the Group's thinking while on a visit which he very kindly arranged of their new pulp mill at Äänekoski. 

The new mill is the first new kraft mill built in the Nordic pulp and paper world (I include Canada in this category) in a very long time. At a cost of €1.2 billion for a capacity of 1.3 million tonnes per year, the investment is substantial. The capacity is only partly new, as an older mill was decommissioned as the new one was started, but this still represents 800,000 incremental tonnes of capacity, all softwood. The mill can make a range of grades from birch and softwood, and is essentially state of the art; all that remains of the old mill is a pulp dryer which will also likely be replaced eventually.  

The mill design is meant to be completely fossil-free. This starts with the recovery boiler, a very high pressure unit making enough steam to generate 2.4 times the mill's internal needs for electricity. Some of this is used for onsite vehicles and wood and pulp bale handling equipment, which are all electric; the balance is sold to the grid. The lime kiln is fired using the newest gasifier design from Valmet, running on hardwood bark. The mill also recovers biogas from sludge, sulfuric acid from non-condensable gasses, and calcium carbonate from CO2. (Some of these recovery operations are in partnership with outside companies). Tall oil and turpentine are also recovered for sale. Essentially this is a state-of-the-art mill as outlined in a number of publications over the last decades, from FPInnovations, VTT, STFI (now RISE), Chalmers University and others. 

But the real news is the new subsidiary, Metsä Spring, which is intended to scout for new partners and technologies and support the best ones with investments in equity and space at Äänekoski or elsewhere within Metsä Group operations. This intention is highlighted by the designation of the mill as a bioproduct mill, not a pulp mill. Among the first projects: a wood-to-textile process that bypasses the traditionally challenging carbon disulphide process. Space for the new textile plant is on the site of the old pulp mill, which had essentially been demolished when I visited.

Overall Metsä Group is taking a very innovative approach, and one worth following up on. Stay tuned!

Review: 8th Nordic Wood Biorefinery Conference

I attended the 8th Nordic Wood Biorefinery Conference in Helsinki, October 23-25, 2018. Finland is a wonderful place to visit, and the opportunity to see some more of the country and visit with former colleagues, combined with the high level of excellence now expected of conference organisers, made it impossible to resist.

Going back to the inaugural event in Stockholm in 2008, NWBC remains the benchmark event for anyone interested in pathways to novel products (chemicals, composites, fibres) from the forest, and I am glad to report that the 2018 scientific committee maintained the tradition of excellence. Combined with the International Lignin Conference held in Edmonton in September, there is now a solid critical mass of researchers working in the area of novel forest products and which is able to support these conferences with world-class papers and presentations.

I was asked by the conference organisers to write up a daily blog. This was a journalistic review of who said what, and when, and was posted, hot off my laptop, on the conference website immediately after the end of sessions each day. It is therefore quite likely that the text is somewhat inaccurate, repetitive and poorly written... these raw, unedited daily posts are linked on the front page of the conference website (click here). Meanwhile I am preparing a more in-depth critical review, with commentary about how the more important papers fit in the broader technical and economic context; I hope to identify the larger trends and more promising technologies to watch for. Let me know if you are interested in this.

I'll limit myself here to describing the opening keynote speech, by Berry Wiersum, CEO of SAPPI Europe. He described the current context as a period of intense change and innovation. Technically this is a good time to be involved in research and development. But huge policy battles are brewing in Brussels, with forest owners, forest companies, oil companies, the EU Parliament and NGOs involved, all tugging in their individual directions. The key driver is this: Brand-owners such as Nestle, Unilever or Coca-Cola want low-cost, light weight, thin, recyclable barrier coatings against water, air and grease; this is where R&D needs to focus. Separately, there is a strong political need for the forest sector to become more energy efficient, even if it is true that the industry’s energy needs are largely met by burning carbon neutral fuels. From a business perspective, these carbon neutral fuels consist mainly of lignin, and far more value can be unlocked if the lignin is used elsewhere. Are deep eutectic solvents a solution? This technology is still a long way in the future. A very interesting view from industry.

All in all a great event, and I am looking forward to the next one to be held in Stockholm in March 2020. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 8, 2018

First International Lignin Conference: Summary

The First International Lignin Conference, presented by PAPTAC, took place September 18-20, 2018 in Edmonton, Alberta. Over 170 people attended, from 14 countries and every continent except Africa and Antarctica. A highlight was a tour of the first commercial LignoForce lignin extraction plant, installed and operated by West Fraser at their kraft pulp mill in Hinton, Alberta.

I am still waiting for the organisers to post presentation material. Once that is available, I'll verify and update my conference notes, which follow.


This conference was of particular interest to me, as I was research manager in charge of developing the LignoForce system prior to retiring from FPInnovations in September 2016. My colleague Mike Paleologou was responsible for the process development and the underlying chemistry; Kirsten Maki built and operated the pilot plant in Thunder Bay that proved the technology. So I won't claim credit any significant technical component; given the excellent contributions by the world-class team of Mike, Kirsten and their supporting staff, my contribution was keeping financing flowing and ensuring research activities stayed on track and focused.

The story begins in late 2005 with a couple of workshops held in Montreal and Edmonton, where industrial and academic experts in a wide range of fields were invited to advise on potential biorefinery options for pulp mills. Most attendees listed lignin extraction high on their list of feasible approaches.

By 2008, Mike had generated some very interesting data which would eventually be the basis of the LignoForce patent. On my recommendation, a decision to redirect significant levels of effort to this project was made by senior management at FPInnovations, with the agreement and financial support of the federal government.

By 2010 it was obvious that we needed to be able to supply tonne-scale samples of lignin to prospective end-users. As the labs could generate at best 20 kg per day, this obviously required a pilot plant, and a 200 kg/d plant (financed by the Province of Ontario through CRIBE) was duly installed in the mill operated by Resolute Forest Products in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Data obtained from the pilot also served to support our licensee, NORAM Engineering and Constructors of Vancouver, as they worked to design a full-scale plant to commercialise the patent. By 2013, we had sufficient data to show both pulp mill operators and producers of engineered wood products what the process and end product would look like, and more importantly what it would cost. FPInnovations Member Companies were approached to identify a promising site for a full-scale plant, and West Fraser stepped up to the challenge. So while it took much longer than I had hoped back in 2008, it was very nice to see the commercial 30 tonne per day plant in operation. And it was very exciting to see that there is a critical mass of people working in the field, in industry, academia and industrial research institutes, so that the conference organisers could put together a superb 2-day program and attract attendees from around the world.

A summary of some of the more interesting presentations follows. As noted I will update and make corrections once the conference presentations are available.

Commercialisation: approaches, risks and rewards

Keith Carter of West Fraser opened the conference by outlining West Fraser's approach to product diversification. Biofuels were considered, but most technologies are pre-commercial, and markets, scale-up and post-startup support by small technology companies were all very uncertain. Given the risk level, this pathway was set aside for the time being. The risk level for lignin extraction seemed less severe and the company committed to a lignin plant in 2014. Financial support from provincial and federal governments, technical support from FPInnovations and NORAM, and the potential for use of a portion of the lignin within the company's own plywood mills all served to reduce the risk of scaling up the pilot plant by a factor of over 100X. Among the remaining challenges: a sustainable resin replacement is still not quite there; the plant is being run intermittently on demand and thus requires multiple starts and shuts; each customer has unique product performance requirements. Nonetheless the company is happy and continues to develop the process and the markets. 

During the visit to the mill in Hinton, Dave Pors, also of West Fraser, documented the timeline leading to startup. Approval by the Board was obtained in December 2013, and demolition of an idled pulp machine to make space for the lignin plant started March 2014. Equipment, in the form of skids shipped from NORAM's Vancouver fabrication shop, began arriving in January 2015. Commissioning began March 2016 with the first successful production run in May 2016. The project was completed on budget and, excluding some external factors over which the mill had no control, on time. Dave and colleagues then hosted a mill tour where we saw the press operated. Lignin is available in acid-washed form, or in alcaline unwashed form. Neither product exhibits any strong sulfur smell, and reduced sulfur compounds in the mill are well managed by a couple of vents to the DNCG system; this is a testament to the efficacy of the oxidation stage.

Production processes

Hanne Karlsson, of Valmet, and Maria Björk, of Stora Enso, described the LignoBoost process and its installation at the Sunila mill operated by Stora Enso. They report good operating history, and Valmet is supporting development of new products such as a hydrophobic thermoplastic and an ABS-lignin compound. 

The Sunila plant makes 50 kT/y of lignin and 375 kT/y of softwood kraft pulp. Sulfur content in the lignin is below 2% by weight, or 800 g/GJ fuel content. The lignin plant takes up to 22% of the lignin in liquor, a large amount, and some issues around sodium-sulfur balance have arisen. Lime kiln flue gas is used to dry the lignin, which is then air-blown to the lime kiln for combustion, or to a packaging plant for sale. In the lime kiln, lignin makes up 80% of the fuel requirement with natural gas supplying the balance. Stora Enso has its own product development activities, supported by a staff of 90 researchers in a new building in Stockholm. 

Shane vanCaeseele of NORAM described the competing LignoForce technology. The key difference  with LignoBoost is the liquor oxidation stage, which, contrary to Tomlinson's teachings, turns out to be beneficial. Oxidising black liquor creates acidic sugar compounds that start the acidification process, reducing demand for carbon dioxide; it also oxidises harmful reduced sulfur compounds. Finally it leads to much improved pressing, which reduces capital cost. Of course, having been intimately involved with the development of this process, I can be accused of a certain bias; but the health and safety benefits of not dealing with reduced sulfur compounds alone are a big reason for considering this process. 


Early emerging markets are those where lignin can be used essentially as-is. Combustion in the lime kiln remains a useful backup plan which displaces fossil fuels, but this does not unlock the full economic value of lignin extraction when natural gas prices are low.

Four papers, two from VTT and two from FPInnovations, described using lignin as a (perhaps partial) substitute for phenolic resins. So-called lignin-phenol-formaldehyde (LPF) resins were described by Tarja Tamminen of VTT and Martin Feng of FPInnovations. Yaolin Zhang of FPInnovations described using nanomaterials to reinforce these LPF resins; he concluded that carbon black provided the best improvement at lowest cost. Tiina Liitia of VTT described converting lignin to dispersants. Most of these applications are essentially ready for commercial applications, and do not require large post-production processes beyond washing and drying.

The other 'easy' application is in polyurethane foams. Armand Langlois of Enerlab 2000, a producer of such foams, described replacing the isocyanate component of PU foams, while others addressed the polyol component.

Moving on to products requiring lignin modification processes, Ludo Diels of VITO provided an overview of depolymerisation techniques, with a viewpoint from the chemical industry rather than the forest sector. This viewpoint made it a particularly important paper. The chemical industry is used to very high purity feedstocks; a propylene stream will consist of nothing but C2H6 with perhaps the odd ethylene molecule having managed to sneak in. Using lignin as it comes from the press or dryer is obviously cheaper than a highly modified lignin, and market applications where this is feasible will justify building initial capacity. Eventually, though, the industry will need to move towards the level of purity expected by the chemical industry.

Other presenters covered depolymerisation, hydrogenation and enzymatic processes. In particular, several papers from Pedram Fatehi's group at Lakehead described depolymerising lignin for use in floculants, in particular a process for grafting lignin to poly-acrylamide polymers for reducing the cost of these chemicals while maintaining performance. As the poly-acrylamide polymers are very expensive, and as they are used for environmental remediation where there is no immediate economic benefit to the user, this could be an important step.

Other markets outlined included lignosulfonates (J. Gargulak, Borregaard), and uses in in oil and gas (N. Bjornadalen, Innotech Alberta). In terms of market analysis, Luana Dessbesell of Western University and Lakehead University described a model for identifying logistics and integration opportunities between lignin plants and end-users. The work is part of her PhD studies and provides a good basis for the business modeling that will be necessary as this new industry grows.

Several other papers, in particular on the topic of lignin in thermoplastics and coatings, will not be reviewed here, as these were presented in parallel sessions on the afternoon of Day 2 which I did not attend. 

Fundamentals of lignin chemistry

Wolfgang Glasser, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, walked through the fundamental chemistry of lignin. As a non-chemist, I won't attempt to describe his presentation in any detail, but there were a few comments that caught my eye. In particular, his view is that lignin from a particular wood supply is essentially invariable; the variability comes from the processing required to separate it from the wood. So variability from day to day, assuming stable wood supply, is due to process variability, not inherent wood variability; variability from mill to mill is additionally due to wood variability. So even with similar wood supplies, each lignin plant may be expected to produce a slightly different product prior to any downstream treatment (depolymerisation, deoxygenation, hydrogenation, etc.); in addition, lignin plants would do well to ensure decent process control, both in the lignin plant and in the pulp mill. This mirrors pilot plant experience, where an 'off' batch of lignin could often be traced to operating conditions in pulping or recovery also being somewhat off, if not so far off as to impact pulp production. 

Lignin analysis

A large number of presentations focused on the difficult topic of lignin analysis and characterisation. Suffice it to say that it is still not clear how to measure molecular weight, which will be a key specification for commercial grades of high-purity lignin; the heated discussions following most of the presentations attest to this fact. Presentations came from academia, research institutes and industry.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Keynote speech, First International Lignin Conference

I was honoured to be invited to present a keynote speech at this conference in Edmonton this week. An excellent event! I will write it up, but meanwhile here is a link to my presentation.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Adoption of disruptive technologies: Lessons from history, Part II

In Part I, I described how Studebaker successfully made the transition from being the largest maker of wagons in the US to a successful car manufacturer (at least until 1966). In Part II, I want to describe the Curtiss and Wright companies as they competed to develop the modern aviation business.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Glenn Curtiss operated a motorcycle factory in Hammondsport, NY, where a museum stands today in his memory. The museum is well worth a stop if you are in the area; allow at least three hours as the 60 minute documentary is well worth the time. It is also possible to visit the restoration shop out back where a WWII fighter is currently being rebuilt.

WWII fighter rescued from the bottom of a lake and undergoing restoration in the museum workshop. 
Ask anyone who invented the airplane, and the answer will be the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur. Certainly they developed an understanding of forces acting on a wing, and how to control those forces, well beyond what any other person or company was capable of in the years from 1900 to their first flight in 1903 and the granting of their patent on control methods in 1906. They were excellent experimenters and craftsmen, and while the patent proved to be overly broad, it was well deserved.
Glenn Curtiss managed 136.7 mph on this 4.4 litre, V8 motorcycle in 1907. The record stood until 1930. 

1907 Curtiss.  

However, others were perhaps more adept at commercialisation. Glenn Curtiss was one such pioneer, an engineer but also what we would recognise today as an entrepreneur. Initially a builder of bicycles and motorcycles, he built more and more successful airplanes, winning the prestigious Gordon Bennett race in France in 1909. (The Wrights did not enter, but two independent pilots entered Wright planes; neither won any awards). By 1910 he was working in San Diego with the US Navy at launching and landing airplanes on aircraft decks.

In this same period, the Wrights continued to build prototypes and small numbers of commercial planes while engaging in a nasty patent battle with Curtiss. While the Wrights were careful experimenters, it would seem they were not moving as quickly as Curtiss in commercialising, relying instead on their patent and plenty of legal strong-arm tactics to maintain their advantage. The issue addressed by the Wright patent was the method of controlling the wing surface; the patent, which was broad, was interpreted by the courts as describing any control mechanism, not just the method the Wrights developed of warping the wing structure to change the wing profile. Curtiss came up with a method of changing wing characteristics using movable ailerons, which are much closer to modern flaps and other movable parts than the flexing of an entire wing structure. Unfortunately in 1914 a court ruled that the Wright patent covered any method of controlling flight surfaces, and Curtiss was forced to cease operations.

In 1916, Orville Wright retired and sold his interest in the patent to Wright-Martin Corporation, for approximately $1 million. (Wilbur had passed away in 1912). Eager to recoup the cost of the patent, Wright-Martin continued the legal battles. By 1916, the only new Wright plane was a single prototype, and while Curtiss was capable of producing saleable airplanes at close to commercial scale, he was effectively out of business. As a result airplane development in the US had stalled, and the US had no airplanes for the war effort. In 1917, the US government forced all aviation patent holders to share their patents in a pool, and to pay a membership fee to participate in the pool; most proceeds went to Wright and Curtiss, who also had a number of patents of his own. The goal was to get airplanes built, using best available technologies, and stop the legal squabbles. Wikipedia claims no American airplanes were used in WWI, but the Curtiss museum claims that US-made planes were indeed used in WWI, and that they were all built by Curtiss. In any case it is clear that most if not all airplanes used in WWI were of European manufacture, in many cases in violation of the Wright patent as interpreted by American judges.

Replica of the Curtiss America.

Replica of the Curtiss America, designed in 1914 to win a 10,000 pound sterling award offered by the London Daily Mail for the first trans-Atlantic crossing. The eruption of WWI  prevented the attempt and the plane was sold to England for use as a submarine spotter. This replica was built in Hammondsport by volunteers and was first flown in 2008. 
Curtiss America cockpit.

The patent pool was not meant to last beyond the end of the war, but manufacturers did not resume legal hostilities in 1918, so the patent war came to an end with the end of World War I. Ironically, the Wright and Curtiss companies merged in 1929 to form Curtiss-Wright, which still operates today. To his dying day, Wright felt that the Wright name should have come first.

So what can we learn from this? First, a patent that stifles innovation is a problem for all. The US aviation industry was held back by this nasty little feud, and no one really gained from it (except, perhaps, the lawyers). Second, patents can have unexpected side effects, especially in the case of new or emerging industries where the full importance of something may not be fully understood until later. Many technologies in use today work the way they do for reasons that have nothing to do with adoption of the 'best' technology, but because one side won a legal battle, or had better marketing or better licensing terms. (VHS versus Beta, anyone?). Third, the experimenter who does superb ground-breaking work needs to be recognised and encouraged, but the skills of the entrepreneur in getting things built quickly and efficiently is equally critical in getting a new industry up and onto its feet.

Oh, and the museum has lots more: wooden boats, motorcycles, cars, weapons and other bits from the dawn of the 20th century. Plus the town of Hammondsport is delightful. Drop in!

Adoption of disruptive technologies: lessons from history, Part I

I had the opportunity earlier this summer to visit a couple of museums focused on the early years of the automotive and aviation industries. It strikes me that there are some parallels with the new bioeconomy. In the spirit of the old saying that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, I offer some thoughts that might be relevant, based on a couple of case studies.

My first stop was at the Studebaker museum in South Bend, Indiana. If you know anything about Studebaker, you'll recall that production ended in South Bend in December 1963, and that the last car rolled off the assembly line in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1966.

The last Studebaker, produced March 17, 1966. This car is currently in the Studebaker museum.
The main reason was a failure to compete with the Big Three in the so-called pony car wars (the Mustang being the initial entrant and leader of the pony car class). Studebaker built solid, dependable and somewhat boring cars at a time when the American public wanted vavoom; the inability to build competitive vehicles was partly if not completely due to poor finances.

Innovative, but not a sales success: The Avanti. After Studebaker closed its doors, a consortium of Studebaker dealers purchased the Avanti name, spare parts and tooling, and continued hand-building cars in very small numbers. Since then, the company has had multiple owners, and has moved several times; the last car was made in Cancun, Mexico, in 2006. The then-current owner's arrest on fraud charges was certainly a contributing factor, but the niche automobile business is a very difficult one at the best of times, even without legal problems.
So why is a failed company like Studebaker a relevant case study for the bioeconomy? To answer we need to go back to the beginnings of the automobile, and look at the innovators. The big names include Henry Ford, Walter P. Chrysler, Louis Chevrolet, Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz and others. None had any background in the horse and buggy industry: Ford worked as an engineer with Edison Illuminating Company, who supported his early work; Chrysler and Benz worked for various railways; Chevrolet essentially worked exclusively for the automotive industry from a young age; Daimler and his colleague Maybach designed steam and gas engines from the 1870's. All founded new companies to develop and market their new inventions.

In contrast, two of the five Studebaker brothers, Clement and Henry Jr., set up shop in South Bend in 1852 to build horse-drawn carriages. The firm was incorporated in 1868. According to Wikipedia, half of the wagons used during the height of westward migration were Studebakers; they also supplied the Union forces with wagons during the US Civil War.

1857 (back) and 1919 (front) Studebaker buggies. The 1919 model is the last buggy built by Studebaker and went directly to the company's museum.

1910 Studebaker dump wagon, 1 ton capacity. Trap doors in the floor serve to empty the load. Presently in the Studebaker museum. 
By 1885 they were exporting carriages around the world, and annual revenue was $2 million, a huge amount at the time when the sturdy dump wagon shown in the figure sold for $202.78; many of the majestic homes built by the brothers and their partners are still to be seen in beautiful South Bend neighborhoods.

In 1895, a younger generation of sons and son-in-laws, led by Frederick S. Fish, began asking whether the company should look at this newfangled self-propelled device called the automobile. The discussion was apparently heated, and an engineer was assigned to this only in 1897 after the passing of one of the remaining brothers who felt that wagon sales were strong and the company should not lose its focus. The first automobile, made in 1902, was electric; the company made $4 million selling wagons that year. Gasoline-powered cars, built in partnership with other automobile firms, came along in 1904, and the last electric was built in 1911. Early teething problems were sorted out using cash from the wagon business, which continued to be strong, but this was a declining market; by 1918 sales of automobiles had reached 100,000 units while horse drawn unit sales had dropped to 75,000 from 467,000 in 1911. Studebaker finally sold the wagon business, to a firm in Kentucky, in 1920, replacing the wagons with a line of commercial vehicles.

1937 Studebaker Coupe Express pickup truck. Presently in the Studebaker museum.

1933 Studebaker President. Presently in the Studebaker museum.
The company survived the Depression, partly due to its reputation for solid and dependable vehicles. It is, if not the only one, certainly one of the rare cases of a firm successfully making the transition from horse-drawn carriages to the automobiles. While the firm was unable to navigate the rapid changes in the post-war automotive market, the decision to adopt a disruptive technology in 1897 led to almost 70 more years of commercial activity. This contrasts with most other players in the early automotive industry, who were overwhelmingly outsiders, often railway engineers already comfortable with the concept of a self-propelled vehicle.

What can we learn from this? A few things. First, you need a successful business with decent cash flow to support a move to a new field. The Canadian pulp and paper industry, by and large, is finding the existing business challenging, and free cash flow is in short supply. Second, partnerships can be a good way of distributing risk, although they need to be selected carefully; Studebaker's partnerships with existing automotive firms were at best unsuccessful, and at worst almost destroyed the new business due to poor product quality. So picking a technology provider, rightfully, requires a painful amount of due diligence for the technology provider, if not for the sponsoring company. In my former life as a research manager, this was a difficult lesson to learn. Third, vision starts from the top; the transition at Studebaker only started in earnest once board members opposed to the change passed away or moved on.

In Part II of this post, I'll look at the effect of patent wars on the adoption of new technologies. Spoiler alert: it wasn't pretty.

References: The Studebaker museum in South Bend, Indiana; Wikipedia;

Upcoming conferences in the forest biorefinery area

I see it has been ten months since I posted here. I spent a large portion of that time moving all the contents of my home into storage so I could move out for three months while the place was renovated; I'm now moved back in and things have settled down enough to allow me to pick up the biorefinery file once again. Time flies when you are having fun!

I am very excited about a couple of upcoming conferences in the forest biorefinery space.

The first is the PAPTAC International Lignin Conference, to be held in Edmonton the week of September 17, 2018. As a member of the program committee, I can say that the selection of proposed abstracts is of very high quality, and cutting it down to a three-day conference will be very challenging. If the existence of a wide range of papers from the academic, vendor and lignin producer worlds is any indication, we now have a robust ecosystem of players which bodes well for this new and growing industry.

This remarkable boot-strap effort has overcome, to a significant degree, the old chicken-and-egg problem: No one will build a plant to make lignin if there is no customer for the product; but no customer will sign any kind of a commitment to purchase from an as-yet unbuilt plant, which will make a product of unknown properties and price. Today we have three full-scale plants producing softwood kraft lignin, with more in the pipeline. This affords customers the opportunity to work with multiple suppliers; conversely there are multiple buyers, so no plant is at the mercy of a single customer. The story of how we got to here is a fascinating one that I hope to be able to address in a keynote speech.

Click here for conference details.

The second is the 8th Nordic Wood Biorefinery Conference, set for Helsinki the week of October 22. The last seven editions of this conference have all been excellent, partly due to the 18 month gap between editions, and I do not expect this year to be any different.

Click here for conference details.

See you there!