FPInnovations and Lignol will advance cellulose applications
July 26, 2011
by Erika Beauchesne
VANCOUVER—Canadian cleantech company Lignol Energy Corp. has signed a five-year agreement to develop cellulose-based materials with FPInnovations.
FPInnovations is a forest products research institute with labs in Québec City, Montréal, Thunder Bay and Vancouver.
Under the new joint development and commercialization agreement, FPInnovations will advance new applications for the cellulose that Lignol produces through its biorefining process.
“We’ll be doing the primary processing at our facility in B.C. and then working with FPI in their various labs throughout country to develop higher value applications for cellulose,” said Lignol President Ross MacLachlan.
Those applications could include biofuels, sugar platform chemicals and cellulose-based materials in sectors such as textiles, paper and food products.
The financial details of the agreement are not being disclosed, but MacLachlan said the deal involves a series of projects and also includes funding from government and additional partners.
The goal will be to develop new products and market opportunities.
FPInnovations has already developed two commercial wood composite applications using Lignol’s lignin formulations.
“It’s becoming increasingly important to have more than one product in your mix,” he says.
That’s especially true for the forest products sector.
“Over the years, we’ve seen people live and die by pulp prices. When they’re off, the whole industry is in a mess,” he says.
Diversification into areas ranging from biochemicals to biotechnologies can cushion companies in market ups and downs.
“We’re just on the cusp of these new technologies coming to market,” MacLachlan says.
The wood fibre composites market has a US$35-billion potential, according to a 2009-2015 market outlook from Forest Products Biotechnology at the University of British Columbia.
It forecasts Canada’s evolving forest products industry could hit $50-billion, but notes forest companies will need to develop partnerships with new players.