If we look back in history, biomass was first used as fuel for fire most probably. Thereafter people started to use it to build shelters, as food and even for the manufacture of tools and production of artifacts. Since then, wood especially has been a very important material for manufacturing of houses,
ships etc., and during the last few hundred years also to produce different type of chemicals as well as for the reduction of metal oxides to elementary metals. During the last 100 years the focus has still been on manufacturing of furniture, building
houses and especially for manufacturing of paper and paper products. Today the total production of paper and paper products is in the range of more than 400 million tonnes/year. Voith’s CEO Hans Peter Sollinger (2011) predicts 500 million tonnes of paper to be produced 2015! In Sweden and Germany, huge amounts of biomass and organic wastes are used to produce district heat and electric power in thermal power plants. Also in many countries pellets are much used in houses for heating purposes. In pulp mills, wood chips are digested with mostly sodium bi-sulfide (NaHS) or sulfite
(Na2SO3). The first is mostly in Kraft pulp processes while the latter is mostly in CTMP plants, Chemo Thermo Mechanic pulp, but also in sulfite processes. During the last decade, we have seen a continuously increased interest to produce more textile
fiber from wood to replace synthetic fibers from oil as well as replace cotton. Together with dissolving pulp, products like ethanol, lignosulfonates, vanilla and others chemicals are also produced. Several existing batch digesters are converted into this type of production and from being a primarily fiber producer the plants becomes more of biorefineries (Rødsrud et al., 2012). At Borregard in Sarpsborg, Norway, this has been the fact for quite a few years already, just
like at Domsjö, Örnskölsvik in Sweden.