Kemira Oyj has produced formic acid for 30 years now. The production of formic acid has been expanded gradually, and the current production volume is over 100,000 tons per year.
Kemira actively develops new applications for formic acid, especially for the feed, chemical, and leather industries. "The main target of the development work is either to replace more harmful products with a formic acid based product, or to improve the customer process," tells Marjo Luoma, Director, Formate product line.
"A good example of our newest products is Tanfor A which improves the efficiency of the soy bean oil epoxidation process. Lowering the environmental load of the formic acid production is crucial for Kemira.
“We are developing processes which use renewable biomass based raw materials for formic acid production," says Luoma.
"Formic acid is a simple organic acid which is chemically the same naturally degradable acid that red ants have produced in the nature for already millions of years."
When Kemira started the formic acid production in cooperation with Valio in Oulu in fall 1981, most of the production was sold to Finnish farms as a silage additive.
"Still today the preservation of silage is an important application for formic acid, even though the acid today is sold for numerous applications all over the world," says Luoma.
The prospect of formic acid applications and customers is still developing. The bulk of the product is exported from Finland either unprocessed or as a further processed solution for the leather and textile, chemical, pharmaceutical, and feed industries in about 60 countries.
The salts of formic acid, formates, are used in several applications, for example, as de-icers at airports and as oil drilling fluids.