Alfa Laval heat exchangers help boost capacity in biorefinery

#SunPine AB increased capacity and reduced maintenance needs in its biorefinery in Piteå, Sweden by installing Alfa Laval Compabloc and spiral heat exchangers. The close cooperation between the teams from SunPine and Alfa Laval was an important part of the successful execution of the project.

DATE 2023-11-28

Strong demand for bio-based fuel and chemicals

SunPine is one of the world’s leading producers of wood-based biofuels. The company refines crude tall oil, a by-product from the pulp & paper industry, into fuels and base chemicals in its biorefinery in Piteå, Sweden.

SunPine’s main product is tall diesel. This is a key ingredient in the production of Evolution Diesel, an eco-labelled diesel sold in Sweden and Norway. A total of 100 million litres of tall diesel is produced per year which helps cut CO2 emissions by 250,000 tonnes per year. To meet the growing demand, SunPine is investing to expand capacity and is currently building a second plant which will increase the company’s total output by 50%.

Expanding diesel production

In 2018 SunPine decided to scale up its diesel production to meet rising market demand. The upgrade called for increased heating in certain positions.

Multiple challenges had to be overcome. The medium is a very sticky and viscous substance that quickly clogs heat exchangers that are not designed for handling difficult media. There were also requirements for low pressure drops, and the heat exchangers had to be able to fit into the somewhat limited plot space available in the plant. This meant high heat transfer efficiency was crucial in order to fulfil the increased heating requirements.

High performance and low maintenance needs

The solution comprised Alfa Laval Compabloc and spiral heat exchangers. The spiral heat exchangers are designed for handling viscous, fouling media, and the single-channel design results in a self-cleaning effect.

The units were installed and commissioned in 2019 and the SunPine team is very satisfied with the outcome, not least the long cleaning cycles spanning several months.

Alfa Laval spiral heat exchangers






Alfa Laval spiral heat exchangers are designed to handle the toughest heat transfer challenges, such as frequent fouling from dirty media or limitations from pressure drop and floor space. 

More about Spiral heat exchangers 


  • High heat transfer efficiency resulting in compact installations that fitted into the
    existing spaces.
  • Long cleaning cycles, despite the difficult medium.
  • Low pressure drop.
We are very happy with our cooperation with Alfa Laval. After this project we have continued working with Alfa Laval on solutions for our new tall diesel plant. We see that the close dialogue we have leads to very good results, both in terms of process performance and project execution.

Andreas Bäckström, Production Technician at SunPine AB


Alfa Laval Compabloc heat exchangerThe compact, fully welded Compabloc heat exchanger is designed to operate with a wide range of aggressive media and at high temperatures and pressures. 

More about Compabloc