Kalundborg: BPS in Denmark runs cars, produces electricity and heats houses with straw

By Maive Rute

[In the case, “Cook Composites and Polymers,” we discussed with some apprehension the diagram of a claimed BPS (By-Product Synergy) network at Kalundborg.  Here is some research on how it actually works in Kalundborg – John M].

When you are looking for an example of ‘circular’ or ‘cradle-to-cradle’ economy, Denmark with its Kalundborg cluster serves the purpose well. Over the years, a real ecosystem of companies has evolved in Kalundborg. Denmark’s largest Asnæs Power Station was built there in the first place. Later, Danish Dong Energy chose the site for the first biomass refinery and integrated it with the power station and with various other companies in Kalundborg.

In 2009, the new Inbicon biomass refinery became the ninth major company in the Industrial Symbiosis of Kalundborg, where energy and byproducts are exchanged in over 20 mutually beneficial ways. The waste steam from the power station cooks the straw to prepare it for conversion into cellulosic ethanol. The bio-process also produces a lignin powder so clean that power plants can use it without additional treatment to replace coal. This energy exchange dramatically increases the efficiency and shrinks the carbon footprint of both operations.

The Asnæs Power Station also sends steam to the Statoil Refinery and Nova Nordisk (Novozymes) plant; heat to the municipal water treatment facility and a fish farm; and fly ash offsite to the concrete and cement industry. In removing sulfur dioxide from its flue gas, the power station produces about 110,000 tons of gypsum, which another Kalundborg company turns into plasterboard for the construction industry. This reduces the amount of natural gypsum the company needs to import, and it gives the power station a valuable product made from flue gas.

The farmers around Kalundborg feed the Inbicon biorefinery with straw, about 30 000 metric tons a year. The straw is then brewed with the help of enzymes from Novozymes and Dupont Genencor into a cellulosic ethanol, about 5.4 million liters or 1.4 million gallons of it annually. Statoil blends the cellulosic ethanol with the regular one and makes it available to consumers in some hundred filling stations across Denmark.

Kalundborg biorefinery is a demonstration plant with a relatively limited capacity. Based on the same Danish technology, cellulosic ethanol projects are underway in Malaysia (capacity 5 and 10 million gallons a year) and in the United States (20 million gallons a year). The idea is to use enzyme based processes to convert various types of non-food raw material such as wheat straw in North Dakota, corn cobs and stover in Ontario or Iowa or China, empty fruit bunches on the Malay Peninsula, miscanthus in the U.S. Midwest or sugar bagasse in Brazil or Florida. These new developments in other countries also strive for beneficial industrial symbiosis as it has been tested in Kalundborg.

http://www.inbicon.com/pages/index.aspx

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About macomberjohnd

HBS Finance faculty interested in sustainability in the built environment including devices, structures, townships, and cities.

One Response to “Kalundborg: BPS in Denmark runs cars, produces electricity and heats houses with straw”

  1. By John Macomber

    More specifically on BPS By-Product Synergies from the Kalundborg site here. They call it Industrial Symbiosis.

    http://www.inbicon.com/Biomass%20Refinery/Pages/IndustrialSymbiosis.aspx

    “…It was not by accident that the Asnæs Power Station, Denmark’s largest, was built at Kalundborg in the first place. Nor by accident that Dong Energy chose the site for the first Inbicon Biomass Refinery and integrated it with the power station.

    “Our new biomass refinery became the ninth major company in the Industrial Symbiosis of Kalundborg, where energy and byproducts are exchanged in over 20 mutually beneficial ways. In our case, waste steam from the power station cooks our straw to prepare it for conversion into cellulosic ethanol. Our process also produces a lignin powder so clean that power plants can use it without additional treatment to replace coal. This energy exchange dramatically increases the efficiency and shrinks the carbon footprint of both operations.

    “The Asnæs Power Station also sends steam to the Statoil Refinery and Nova Nordisk (Novozymes); heat to the municipal water treatment facility and a fish farm; and fly ash offsite to the concrete and cement industry. In removing sulfur dioxide from its flue gas, the power station produces about 110,000 tons of gypsum, which another Kalundborg company turns into plasterboard for the construction industry. This reduces the amount of natural gypsum the company needs to import, and it gives the power station a valuable product made from flue gas.

    “This kind of thinking has applications far beyond Denmark. Instead of one manufacturer on one site, we’re seeing more co-locations, more clustering, more sharing of resources and utilization of one another’s wastes in increasingly productive and cost-cutting ways. “

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