A consortium of three Helsinki companies have been developing a clean energy alternative with domestic bio-oil, and now a fourth company has joined the effort.

Metso Corp, Fortum and UPM all have contributed to the development of a biomass-based bio-oil production concept to provide an alternative to fossil fuels. Since last summer, Metso’s research and developement center in Tampere, Finland, has been producing high-quality bio-oil from sawdust and forest residues. Now, Fortum, based in Espoo, Finland, has joined the project.

The consortium has developed a bio-oil production process in which a reactor, linked to a conventional fluidized bed boiler, can first gasify solid biomass and then compress it into liquid form. Through five months of pilot testing, the partners have improved production methods and the efficiency of the process, producing more than 20 tons of bio-oil. An alternative to heavy and light fuel oils, domestic bio-oil decreases the burden on the atmosphere.

The Finnish developers are committed to ongoing improvements in the production of bio-oil from renewable resources. They hope that combining bio-oil production with bio-energy-based power plants also will provide them with new business potential, as well as cost and efficiency benefits. The companies’ agreement for the joint project extends through 2010.