BioVerno: a wood-based renewable diesel

Project Description

UPM Biofuels has innovated and developed a production process to transform a wood-based residue of its pulp production into a unique, high-quality renewable diesel that can be used in any of today’s diesel engines – car, bus, truck or boat – without modification. UPM BioVerno reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% compared to fossil diesel, and does not compete with food production. There is no additional demand for biomass or extension of the area of forest harvesting, because to make BioVerno we take advantage of established production processes, using a residue as feedstock. Based on sustainable innovation and a five-year development phase at UPM’s Lappeenranta R&D centre in Finland, the results from the pilot production and testing led UPM to build a commercial-scale biorefinery in February 2012. The final investment of €179 million was entirely financed by the company, without any public subsidies. Commercial production started in January 2015. The UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery produces 100,000 tonnes of renewable diesel and renewable naphtha each year.

Project Purpose

The beneficiaries are:

• The global community, which can use a renewable fuel with minimal impact on climate and air pollution, without competing with food and without affecting land use, directly or indirectly.

• The local economy, which benefits from jobs, new technology, additional demand for equipment and labour as well as increasing domestic use of raw material.

• Local forest owners, who benefit from guaranteed purchases of wood locally for the biorefinery complex, using wood as raw material for various businesses, such as pulp, paper, sawn timber and biofuels.

• The automotive industry, which receives a high-quality fuel without the need to modify engines. The improved fuel characteristics result in improved engine performance and lower emissions (NOx, HC, particle emissions).

Project Evaluation

The project has been a success. The biorefinery has been running for two years, and has reached the technological and economic targets we set at the beginning. The world´s first biorefinery for production of wood-based advanced biofuel has a capacity of 100,000 tonnes, which corresponds to approximately 250,000 tonnes of CO2 emission reductions in the transport sector.

Sari Mannonen

Vice President, UPM Biofuels Business

“Sustainable wood-based biofuels, such as UPM BioVerno, diversify the fuel supply base, help reach renewable energy targets and tackle oil dependence in the transport sector. UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery is the biggest advanced biofuels plant in Europe. The unique process transforms crude tall oil, originating from wood resin into renewable diesel. The side streams —naphtha, turpentine, pitch and sodium bisulphite—are used to produce bioplastics, perfumes and bleaches. Based on the principles of the circular economy, each residue is utilised.”

Main Features:

Reduces CO2 emissions:

250,000 tonnes/year


€179 million, without public subsidies