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Jul 8, 2019

SWEETWOODS flagship plant construction work starts in July

Estonian rural municipality government has issued a building permit for the wood valorisation flagship plant to be established by Graanul Biotech, subsidiary of Graanul Invest. Construction work on the industrial demo plant is planned to start in July.

One-of-a-kind flagship plant that will be established in Imavere uses hardwood residues as raw material and turns biomass into biomaterials with innovative characteristics – high-purity lignin and wood sugars. The new biomaterials offer sustainable solution for many different industries – from chemistry and food industry to cosmetics and construction materials.

“We are delighted that Imavere as the heart of Estonian wood industry is growing into a globally important centre of wood valorisation,” said Raul Kirjanen, CEO of Graanul Invest. “15 years ago, the story of Graanul Invest started with the first plant in Imavere, and now an innovative industrial demo plant that allows for the research and development to move to the next level in wood valorisation is in the process of being built next to that same plant.”

Imavere to the world map

“The development of entrepreneurship is important for Järva rural municipality, and we are glad that new jobs are being created in the Imavere area. What’s important about the project is that it’s a test plant and research work that is sure to take Imavere to the world map once the goals are achieved,” said Rait Pihelgas, Järva rural municipality mayor.

Järva rural municipality government supports the undertaking and, at the same time, is considering the effect the demo plant will have on the environment and the population of Imavere when introducing all the new technologies. “According to the preliminary assessment, we believe that the living environment of Imavere will in no way deteriorate due to the establishment of the flagship plant,” said Pihelgas.

According to Peep Pitk, Head of Research and Development at Graanul Invest group, innovative processing of wood provides the opportunity to move from a resource-based wood industry model to a knowledge-based model for developing innovative bioprocesses and novel materials. The demo plant technology has been developed with target to have a minimal ecological footprint and low impact on the environment, which allows dimensioning the plant size according to local conditions.

“The location of Imavere precisely between two leading research centres in Estonia creates good opportunities for broad cooperation with Estonian universities in order to create a globally important wood valorisation centre of excellence in Imavere, which brings together the world’s top science of wood processing and industry practices,” said the Head of Research and Development Pitk.

The demo plant is part of the SWEETWOODS project that has received research financing that is one of the largest in Estonia and one of the most influential in the EU – Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking is supporting the project with 20.96 million euros.

SWEETWOODS project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 792061.