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Jennifer Garfinkel
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WASHINGTON (December 8, 2020) – A new study, “The Crude Tall Oil Value Chain: Global Availability and the Influence of Regional Energy Policies,” published recently in The Journal of Cleaner Production, forecasts an 8% deficit of crude tall oil (CTO) global availability for all applications by 2030. According to the study, this deficit is due to the high demand of CTO for transportation-related biofuels.

CTO, a side stream of the pulp and paper industry, is a scarce resource. It is an essential raw material used to make pine chemicals. For almost 100 years, the pine chemistry industry has upgraded CTO by separating it into higher use derivatives that can be used to create high value-added bio-based products such as paints, pharmaceuticals substances, lubricants, soaps, detergents and additives. Pine chemicals can improve product performance, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase reuse of materials.

“The pine chemistry industry is one of the few industries that uses CTO as an important resource to produce a wide array of bio-based chemicals and end-use consumer products,” said Jon Busch, director in the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Chemical Products and Technology Division.

The authors of the study make the case that although CTO can be used to address short-term carbon emissions mandates globally, regulators incentivizing the use of CTO for biofuels over the long run does not present a level playing field for all uses of CTO.

“ACC’s Pine Chemistry Panel believes that in terms of U.S. and global availability, the supply and demand for CTO for its use in bio-chemicals, bioenergy, and biofuels (for transportation) should be left to free market forces,” said Busch.

The analysis and results presented in The Journal of Cleaner Production stem from the independent research study conducted in part by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology UMSICHT, which was commissioned by ACC. A significant portion of the data used in the analysis by the Fraunhofer Institute was drawn from the global database of Fastmarkets RISI.

Key Findings From the Study:

  • Global CTO supply and demand summary:
    • Found that the global availability of CTO will increase from 1.85 million tonnes per year in the year 2019 to 2.26 million tonnes per year in 2030. This increase is due to current and future softwood kraft pulp capacity expansions.
    • Demand for CTO in bio-chemicals will grow from 1.48 million tonnes per year in 2019 to 1.56 million tonnes per year in 2030.
    • Demand for CTO based biofuels for transportation will increase from 0.32 million tonnes per year in 2019 to 0.88 million tonnes per year in 2030.
    • Project a growing deficit in the global CTO availability of 0.6 % in 2020 to 8% in 2030, due to increased biofuels demand.

To read the study, click here.

A companion study published in 2019 by the same authors examined the environmental, social and economic impacts of EU Policies on CTO as a feedstock. Click here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.03.240

To learn more about the Pine Chemistry Panel of ACC and its goal to educate the public and policymakers about the many benefits of pine chemistry, click here.

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