Common reed would be a suitable material for the green transition

The current technology of biorefineries would enable the utilization of the common reed for product manufacture. The efficient harvesting of the reed would also help control the nutrient content of water bodies and promote the green transition. 

The common reed holds great potential as a raw material for many processes aiming for highly refined end-products for international markets. Despite the expanding growth area and volumes, industrial-scale utilization has not advanced due to reasons such as underdeveloped harvesting technologies.

”The lignocellulose-based common reed should be taken into account on a global scale as a part of the green transition,” maintains Timo Suutarla, business development manager at Green Industry Park.

Suutarla was a mentor in a student working group that examined the functionality of the current harvesting methods of the common reed in industrial-scale harvesting. The study was part of LUT University’s Master’s course Current Issues in Enabling Technologies for Circular Economy. The study collected data on the suitability of different methods and interviewed operators in the field.

Global population growth and a rising standard of living will lead to a shortage of virgin raw materials. New circular economy technologies will enable the raw material use of new, currently underutilized material flows, such as the common reed. For example, textiles, plastics, adhesives, cosmetics and fuels could be manufactured from the common reed with current biorefinery technologies.

“How can we recover this nutrient-absorbing annual straw from our waterways and deliver it to the mill at a competitive price? That is the key question to developing this new industry in which Finland has what it takes to be a world leader,” says Suutarla.

How to sell the common reed

The LUT study indicates there are only a few mechanical harvesting technologies for the common reed. All of the technologies examined are at an early stage of development. On the other hand, the common reed has various uses. Traditionally, it has served as material for thatched roofs as such, untreated, which has not required highly refined harvesting mechanisms. Therefore, the harvesting technologies have typically been small-scale, relying on adaptations to existing equipment. This inevitably leads to high harvesting costs.

”The growth, weather and soil conditions make harvesting varied and challenging,” says the working group’s Jyri Kuitunen.

“Another important aspect is the presently missing logistics and storage of harvested common reed,” says another member of the group, Aysu Cansu, who interviewed representatives of a local harvesting company in Kouvola, Finland.

“Currently, they do not know how to transport and sell their harvested common reed, which is a huge problem. The feasibility of the process could be greatly improved by solving this problem,” she continues.

Cost-efficient harvesting technologies can make reed a raw material for bioethanol

The common reed would be an interesting addition to the raw material range in bioethanol production. Harvesting the reed efficiently would also help control the nutrient content of water bodies and promote the green transition.

Another mentor of the student research group, Janne Harjunpää of the company Myllykosken bioetanoli Oy, emphasizes that harvesting the common reed from water areas would help to eliminate nutrient runoffs, and the use of the reed as a raw material for second generation biofuels would reduce the need to import fossil fuels and thus also reduce CO2 emissions. However, high harvesting costs are the main obstacle to exploiting the common reed on an industrial scale.

The large-scale utilization of the common reed for different purposes would also create significant regional and international business opportunities.

“The study highlights the opportunities in our region to turn the challenges of this era into opportunities. The innovative exploitation of the common reed can give us a clear advantage in creating new business. We definitely need to seize the opportunity,” says the group’s third mentor, Mika Penttilä from Kouvola Innovation Oy.

The study sheds light on the existing harvesting technologies and creates a solid basis for further development. It will be utilized in, for instance, the development of harvesting methods and planning the financing of further studies and projects.

The members of LUT University’s student working group were Nazila Bolourieh, Aysu Cansu, Anne Fraser-Vatto, Jyri Kuitunen and Daniel Teittinen. The group was supervised by Jutta Nuortila-Jokinen, industry professor at LUT University.

More information:

Green Industry Park in the URBAN TECH programme with two challenges

URBAN TECH is a 3-year project funded by European Union’s horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (under grant agreement No 101005301). The aim is to support European small and midsize enterprises to launch new or significantly improved products and services with higher value in Health Tech, Green Tech and Smart City industry sectors.

The programme has collected over 300 European challenges, and it is now possible to propose your solution to these URBAN TECH Challenges! By applying to URBAN TECH Open Call, you may enter URBAN TECH Programme which will provide up to 54.350 EUR per SME or start-up in different funding stages. The aim is that SMEs or start-ups entering URBAN TECH programme will develop a new or significantly improved service or product that addresses one or several of the URBAN TECH challenges.

Green Industry Park has submitted two open challenges in the URBAN TECH project:

1. Solution for efficient harvesting and collection of common reed
2. Creating marketplace for straw based materials such as straw and reed

If you are interested, more information is available here: 

A Teams info about the programme is arranged in 18th of August. Sign up here:

The call is open until 14th of September.

We are waiting for your bright innovations to the two challenges (see links above) Green Industry Park has submitted!

Any questions or want more information, please contact at GIP

or for Urban Tec related matters

Building bridges between large companies and start-ups in sustainable development: SusChem network’s “Innovation and Start-up Forum” now being organised for the 2nd time

  • Green Industry Park and Smart Chemistry Park of the Turku region will introduce themselves at the ChemBio Finland event. 

Green Industry Park Oy, a development company specialising in bio and circular economy and promoting industrial growth of renewable forms of energy, and Smart Chemistry Park, which is a cluster of innovations in chemistry and process industry located in the Raisio industrial area, will be attending the ChemBio Finland event to be held at the Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre on 8–9 June. The Innovation and Start-up Forum of the SusChem network will also be organised at the event.

Green Industry Park and Smart Chemistry Park, with their associated companies, will be attending the ChemBio Finland event in June. The event is the first public appearance for Green Industry Park, which promotes use of the former Naantali oil refinery for industrial purposes, among other things. The company is seeking prospective companies with a growth mindset, which could complement the future business ecosystem in sustainable industry in the Turku region. 

Since Green Industry Park rents space in the Smart Chemistry Park innovation cluster, managed by Turku Science Park, it seemed only natural to participate in the event together. Smart Chemistry Park comprises ten growth-minded companies in the chemical and process industries. Four of the companies, CH-Bioforce Oy, CH-Polymers Oy, Chementors Oy and Finnpatent Oy, will be attending the event. Smart Chemistry Park will also be sharing responsibility for organising the second start-up and innovation forum of the SusChem network, being held at the ChemBio Finland event for the first time. 

Network Manager Reeta Huhtinen of Smart Chemistry Park, who is helping to organise the event, says, “The first SusChem innovation forum was organised as a hybrid event in the autumn 2020. Now, after the worst of the Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, we felt it was important to organise the event completely on site. There are hopes to be able to organise the event once every two years. The event organisers are the founding members of the network: the VTT state-owned research institution, which is the primary coordinator, the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland and Smart Chemistry Park

“The idea behind the SusChem Innovation and Start-up Forum is not only to make large companies aware of the types of start-ups we have in the chemical industry and sustainable development here in Finland, but also to inform the start-ups about the expectations large companies have and the kind of collaboration that is done with innovation companies,” Huhtinen explains. Continuous Improvement Manager Jaakko Tuomainen, for example, tells about Borealis Oyj’s SPIRIT programme and the ecosystem in his pitches to start-ups and new innovators. CH-Polymers’ pitches tell start-ups about innovative binders and barrier dispersions.

Contrary to the other start-up events, the forum is not intended for financiers at all. Rather, the purpose of the pitches is specifically to increase interaction and collaboration between companies of different sizes. “Even promising start-ups and technological innovators may experience challenges in scaling and commercialising technology. This is when collaboration with large companies may prove to be a lifesaver,” Huhtinen says. 

The SusChem network strives to smooth over what Huhtinen describes as the “Death Valley stage” by building bridges between companies. 

ChemBio Finland chemistry and biotechnology event at the Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre on 8–9 June 2022 — Green Industry Park Oy and Smart Chemistry Park will be there, booth 3m38.

SusChem Innovation and Start-up Forum will be in seminar hall 3F on Thursday 9 June from 9:30 to 13:00. The event is free for preregistered visitors.

Forum programme:

Green Industry Park drives sustainable green innovation investments into the greater Turku region

(original article by ExpandFibre)

ExpandFibre Ecosystem member Green Industry Park Oy is a development company founded in June 2021 to develop the industrial businesses of bio and circular economies as well as the renewable energy sector. These sectors are the key enablers of the green transition for industrial companies in the greater Turku region (incl. the municipalities of Turku, Raisio and Naantali among many others). Despite its name, Green Industry Park is not yet an actual industrial park, but an ambitious development company with a vision to drive sustainable industrial development in the Turku Region.

The ExpandFibre team had an interesting chat with Green Industry Park’s Marketing Manager Krista Ahonen on the company’s origins and mission, future plans and why they wanted to join the growing Ecosystem led by Fortum and Metsä Group.

Circular economy and sustainability  at the core

After the Neste Corporation rearranged its oil refining business and closed down the Naantali refinery in 2020, Green Industry Park Oy was established in June 2021 to safeguard future industrial investments into the Turku region. Green Industry Park works in close collaboration with local municipalities, universities and regional developers attracting, supporting and creating future possibilities for new sustainable industrial investments, at the same time  promoting its portfolio of available industrial sites in the Turku business region. Green Industry Park is also highly interested in supporting start-up and growth companies to take the crucial growth steps into demonstration and full industrial scale operation.

Circular economy with a target to enhance the usage and value of bio-based and recycled raw materials in large-scale industrial processes are fundamentally important for Green Industry Park. With its actions, Green Industry Park also positively contributes to climate change mitigation and enhances biodiversity. They are scouting new application areas for under-utilised raw materials or industrial side streams and waste streams such as common reed, straw, wood chips and wood waste in forests.

The core team of Green Industry Park is made up of four highly skilled and experienced industrial professionals. The company is led by CEO Linda Fröberg-Niemi with other key team members being Timo Suutarla as the business development manager, Krista Ahonen as the marketing manager and Toivo Koskinen as the technical specialist.

Networking is elementary

Krista considers networking with the growing ExpandFibre Ecosystem fundamentally important for Green Industry Park.They  are already strongly connected with key stakeholders in the Turku business region  and have their office in the Smart Chemistry Park, where innovative companies such as CH Bioforce (part of ExpandFibre Ecosystem) and CrisolteQ (now part of Fortum) also  started their journeys. The best-case scenario for Green Industry Park would be to find  innovative companies within the Ecosystem, who are actively looking to expand their industrial operations, and support them to invest into the Turku region. . Krista notes that the  industrial areas in the Turku region offer modern and dynamic operating environments, as well as logistically optimal  locations for international business.

Perfectly in line with the vision and mission of ExpandFibre, Krista summarises the bold mission of Green Industry Park, namely  ”to advance the creation of sustainable global industries for the benefit of the planet”.

A Hub of Bio- and Circular Economy in the Works at Naantali

Linda Fröberg-Niemi, CEO of Green Industry Park, envisions a world-class industry cluster to take over the Naantali refinery area. The cluster would turn industrial by-flows, from both agricultural and industrial processes, into textile fibers and materials solutions. Solutions based on hydrogen and power-to-X will also be part of the new operations. The region’s special characteristics, infrastructure, and nature of existing activities support the process industry.

Neste’s ex-refinery in Naantali is being transformed into a hub of bio- and circular economy

The idea is that the Green Industry Park could, in the future, house a conglomerate of many industrial companies and SME’s in various stages of their growth, with these actors forming an industrial symbiosis together. The symbiosis would include synergy between companies in material flows, expertise, and energy. Close cooperation between innovation actors is also crucial. According to Fröberg-Niemi, Green Industry Park brings environmental benefits from the point of view of the companies locating there and the operational model of the industry park, which aims to offer actors a platform to operate according to the principles of circular economy.

– There aren’t many options like this available. The region’s attractive qualities also include a stable operational environment, peace and quiet, working culture and great international relations to other countries.

Expertise in process chemistry is also visible in the region’s industry and businesses. Fröberg-Niemi is quick to mention the Smart Chemistry Park in Raisio, which is an innovation incubator for startups and growth companies. 

The population of the Turku subregion is around 300 000, 40 000 of which are students. Due to academic education and research, the Turku region has a lot of expertise in chemistry and process chemistry. Yearly intake of technology students in Turku is around 2000 individuals.

– We want to be an attractive ecosystem for both young and more experienced talents, including people with international backgrounds. Many are interested in doing their part for a more sustainable future. We can be the one offering these jobs. One industrial job position creates up to four ancillary positions.

Linda Fröberg-Niemi
Linda Fröberg-Niemi, CEO of Green Industry Park Ltd., hopes that the government might help in creating the prerequisites for developing new industrial operations in Finland. Photo by Tuukka Salo, Presser Oy.

As CEO of Green Industry Park Ltd., Linda Fröberg-Niemi’s task is to create the prerequisites for new operations. She is the person who finds the right negotiation partners and potential investment opportunities, clear ups issues related to land-use with Neste and the cities, works with universities and other partners and develops the Green Industry Park brand and marketing operations internationally.

Fröberg-Niemi emphasizes that Finland has excellent companies in their starting stages; companies, who also have a lot of potential for founding an industrial plant in Finland. Fröberg-Niemi says that Finland holds many of the keys it needs when striving toward reducing emissions and achieving carbon neutrality.

Original Finnish article: Jasmine Jussila, Presser Oy