Comet to build 30K ton biomass sugar plant in Ontario

February 19, 2016 |

BD TS 021916 smIn Washington, Comet Biorefining announced at ABLC 2016 the location of its commercial-scale biomass-derived sugar facility in the TransAlta Energy Park in Sarnia, Ontario.  The 60 million pounds per year plant will come online in 2018 producing dextrose sugar from locally-sourced corn stover and wheat straw.  Corn stover consists of residues left in the field after harvest including stalks, leaves, husks and cobs.

The project tipped in mid-2015

Last July, Bioindustrial Innovation Canada confirmed that it had  completed phase 1 of a project to assess the economic viability of the agricultural biomass to cellulosic sugar value chain in Canada.

Earlier this month, Bioindustrial Innovation Canada concluded a Phase 2 assessment that “there is sufficient economic value with available technologies to support the development of a commercial plant to produce cellulosic sugar and co-products in southwestern Ontario utilizing locally-harvested corn stover. “

The evaluation process managed by BIC included the participation of farm organizations, industries currently using agricultural biomass, and technology providers. The study focused on agricultural biomass supply, the economics of biomass conversion technology, and the market acceptance of cellulosic sugar and co-products.

The project was aimed at better understanding the potential commercial value of agricultural residues and how these could be transformed to support a feedstock supply for bioproducts.  This project was developed based on previous studies dating back to 2010.

At the time, BIC said that “based on this recommendation, a separate follow-up project is anticipated with the Cellulosic Sugar Producers Cooperative which will develop and implement a commercial business plan for field aggregation to biomass conversion to sugar market.

The ultimate objective was to establish an economically viable, full-scale, commercial cellulosic sugar plant (~125,000 dry tonnes/year cellulosic mixed sugars) in Southern Ontario by 2018. This is expected to require a biomass conversion facility handling up to 250,000 dry tonnes/year of biomass. And this is the heart of the Comet announcement at ABLC this week.

The Comet background

Using its proprietary patented process, Comet converts non-food agricultural and forest residues into high-purity dextrose sugars that will be transformed into bio-based products including organic acids, amino acids and bioplastics.  These low-carbon bio-based products replace traditional petroleum-based materials, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help contribute to Canada’s efforts on climate change.  Comet dextrose is cost- and performance-competitive with commercial dextrose sugars, the benchmark raw material for today’s biochemical production.

Comet chose to locate in Sarnia by working together with Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and an Ontario farmers’ cooperative on a project to attract sustainable technology providers to the region and to meet increasing demand from chemical suppliers and consumers for low-carbon products.

Andrew Richard, CEO of Comet said, “Construction of this first-of-a-kind plant represents a key step towards the large-scale commercialization of our cellulosic sugar business.  It highlights the important role our technology plays in the value chain, helping to drive the bioeconomy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Comet’s cellulosic sugar technology was one of the clean sustainable technologies recommended, with the best fit for the region and an excellent opportunity to accelerate the growth of the bioeconomy in rural Ontario”, noted Dr. Murray McLaughlin, Executive Director, BIC.

“Establishing new uses for agricultural residues in the bio-based chemical supply chain leads to sustainable farms and new markets.  Both outcomes are primary goals of the OFA, and this project does just that,” said Don McCabe, OFA’s President.

Last February, Comet closed a funding round led by Sofinnova Partners. Comet will use the proceeds to complete the design of its commercial facility, expand the team and continue to develop commercial partnerships.

Comet has developed a proprietary technology for the conversion of wood, wheat straw, bagasse, corn stover and similar agricultural wastes into high purity glucose syrup. Due to its high yield and short production times the process allows for smaller facilities closer to biomass sources with lower overall production costs. Comet has proven its technology at 5 dry tons per day demonstration scale and describes itself, after a number of years in stealth mode as “well positioned for commercial scale.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: ,

Category: Top Stories

Thank you for visting the Digest.