Cascades unveils $26M cellulosic project in Quebec

April 13, 2015 |

logo_cascades_enTargeting the extraction of hemicellulose from wood chips, replacing chemical process.

In Quebec, Cascades Inc. announced the company’s investment in a new technology at its Norampac – Cabano facility. This innovative new process – a Canadian first – is used to extract hemicellulose, a cellulosic sugar with high value-added potential, from wood chips.

This $26M project is backed by a $10M investment from Natural Resources Canada’s Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program and an additional $4.4M from the Québec Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, the Cabano plant will replace its current process – the production of sodium carbonate-based chemical pulp – with this new, more environmentally friendly and economical one that was developed in conjunction with a U.S. partner.

This new process – the extraction of hemicellulose from deciduous woodchips – will replace the use of chemical products, which would otherwise have to be purchased, shipped and disposed of responsibly. Another benefit is the plant’s reduced energy consumption, which will boost Cabano’s competitiveness. The facility’s reduced environmental footprint will position Cabano to offer products that are even more environmentally friendly.

Hemicellulose, a natural polymer found in plant cell walls, presents myriad opportunities ranging from power generation to biofuels such as ethanol, as well as the production of natural sugar-based value-added products.

More on hemicellulose

Just last month, researchers with the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), a partnership that includes Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley, have found a way to increase the production of fuels and other chemicals from biomass fermented by yeast. By introducing new metabolic pathways into the yeast, they enable the microbes to efficiently ferment cellulose and hemicellulose, the two major families of sugar found in the plant cell wall, without the need of environmentally harsh pre-treatments or expensive enzyme cocktails.

Also last month, Taurus Energy revealed that it has held contract negotiations with a US company as it develops its XyloFerm yeast strain, which can be used for the production of second-generation ethanol. The US company produces a cheap sugar from cellulose material, producing hemicellulose as a by-product. The two companies plan on signing a Research Collaboration Agreement, under which Taurus Energy will receive a hydrolysate from the US company so that Taurus can tailor its yeasts to suit this hydrolysate and to achieve optimization in the fermentation process.

Last August, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed “bionic liquids” from lignin and hemicellulose, two by-products of biofuel production from biorefineries. JBEI is a multi-institutional partnership led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) that was established by the DOE Office of Science to accelerate the development of advanced, next-generation biofuels.

Reaction from the stakeholders

“Cascades is once again pleased with this pioneering achievement in the areas of innovation and sustainable development, especially within the four walls of one of its original facilities,” CEO Mario Plourde commented. “This project represents a unique advance in biorefinery technological development. This new process will enable improvements in the efficiency and competitiveness of our Cabano plant’s current corrugated paper production process, thus making existing jobs more secure.”

Cascades-goals-041415

Back in 2013, plourde had said, “Now more than ever, growth depends on innovation.” Several products launched over the past three years continue to arouse keen customer interest: the EVOK recycled Polystyrene foam tray, and the CascadesMoka tissue products made from unbleached recycled fibres.

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“This investment is another example of how our government is helping Canada’s forest industry bring innovative, high-value products to the marketplace, increasing Canada’s global competitiveness and protecting jobs in the local community,” declared the Honourable Greg Rickford, federal Minister of Natural Resources.

“This investment reflects the importance of the diversification of forest products for the industry and, at the same time, for various government jurisdictions. These are the kind of technological advances that will enable our forest industry to differentiate itself and that will also create prosperity for our regions,” declared Laurent Lessard , Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks.

More about Cascade

Cascades produces, converts and markets packaging and tissue products that are composed mainly of recycled fibres. Cascades employs almost 11,000 men and women, who work in more than 90 production units in North America and Europe.

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