New $80M chemical plant for Sarnia

BioAmber is building its first North American biosuccinic acid plant in Sarnia, Ont. as the location for its first North American biosuccinic acid plant.

August 29, 2011   by PLANT STAFF

SARNIA, Ont.: BioAmber Inc. is building its first North American biosuccinic acid plant in Sarnia, Ont.

BioAmber, a Minneapolis, Minn. chemical company, currently produces bio-based succinic acid at a 3,000-tonne plant in France.

The $80-million Bluewater Biochemicals plant (a subsidiary of BioAmber), to be commissioned in 2013, will have an initial capacity of 17,000 tonnes of succinic acid.

The renewable, non‐toxic specialty chemical derived from plant and animal tissue is used to make a wide range of products from plastics used in durable and other consumer goods, to food additives, fragrances, construction materials and salts that melt ice and snow.

“Sarnia has tremendous potential as a sustainable chemistry cluster. The unique combination of chemical infrastructure, skilled labour, educational facilities, competitive transportation costs and proximity to some of Canada’s richest agricultural land make Sarnia an excellent choice,” said Jean-Francois Huc, CEO of BioAmber.

The company said it plans to double capacity in Sarnia by 2014 with the introduction of a next‐generation yeast being developed with Cargill Ltd., a Winnipeg-based producer of food and agricultural products and services.

BioAmber also plans to produce 1,4‐Butanediol (BDO) on the site using technology licensed from DuPont for the $4 billion global market.

The plan for the Sarnia plant is to produce 35,000 tonnes of biosuccinic and 23,000 tonnes of biobased BDO at peak capacity.

Ontario and federal government programs, and the Canadian Sustainable Chemistry Alliance provided grants and loans of $35 million that were instrumental in bringing the plant to Sarnia.

“These provincial and federal programs have put Ontario and Canada at the forefront of sustainable development and in strong position to compete globally for foreign investment by renewable chemical and material companies, “ said Mike Hartmann, executive vice-president of BioAmber.

Hartmann said the company looked at six US states and two provinces “very closely” after an initial screening. “Funding was a significant factor.”

The first phase of the project is expected to generate 150 construction jobs and 40 plant jobs.

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