PLANT

Biofuel process to develop sugar substitute, cellulose ethanol


January 14, 2010
by PLANT STAFF

WATERDOWN, Ont.: SunOpta BioProcess Inc. will get up to $5.5 million in federal in funding for the construction of a biofuel pilot plant somewhere in Southern Ontario. 

The funding from the Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) will go towards demonstrating an integrated process that will produce both food grade xylitol─a healthy sugar substitute─and fuel-grade cellulosic ethanol.   

SunOpta BioProcess Inc., a developer of biomass conversion process technologies, equipment and facilities and a subsidiary of SunOpta Inc., will use wood chips as feedstock. The technology is projected to decrease the consumption of process water by up to 75% of what would be used to produce corn ethanol while retaining all of the life-cycle carbon benefits inherent to cellulosic ethanol.  

The project involves the construction of a demonstration plant with a capacity to produce up to 620 tonnes of xylitol and 2 million litres of cellulosic ethanol per year.
“Successful commercialization of biofuel production technology relies upon capturing value from all of the major components in biomass feedstock.

The SDTC funding will allow SunOpta BioProcess to demonstrate its integrated process technology to produce biofuels from cellulose, bioenergy from lignin, and xylitol, a natural alternative sweetener and value-added product produced from xylan,” said company president Murray Burke.  

The SDTC funding for SunOpta’s project will be leveraged with funding from members of its consortium, including Xylitol Canada and Emerald Forest Sugars Inc. 

PLANT