Birth of an industrial sugars giant? Sugars in focus in Leaf Resources, Petronas agreement

August 30, 2018 |

We hear from Australia and Malaysia that PETRONAS Chemicals Group and Leaf Resources inked a Memorandum of Understanding for Leaf’s proposed biorefinery project in Malaysia.

In prospect? A study of chemical markets and commercially ready bio-technologies. Potential outcome? An offtake agreement for the fermentable sugars produced at the proposed Leaf facility in Segamat Johor Malaysia on terms mutually agreed by the parties and consistent with global project finance standards.

Leaf’s Malaysian biorefinery project

Leaf continues to make progress on its proposal to develop a biorefinery incorporating its proprietary Glycell technology at Segamat, Johor in Malaysia. In February, Leaf announced it had executed a two-year option on land at Segamat. This site is highly suited to Leaf’s proposed biorefinery, given its ready access to empty fruit bunch waste from the palm oil industry which will be processed to produce industrial sugars, glycerol and lignin.

A supply of 10,000 metric tonnes per day of biomass is available — Leadf needs just 600 tonnes per day for the biorefinery. And, the land is immediately adjacent to facilities operated by B&G, a company with extensive experience in aggregating and processing EFB. Leaf has signed a Letter of Intent with B&G, with the aim of entering into a binding commercial agreement to take supply of EFB as the key biomass input for the biorefinery project.

Under the Fibre Supply Agreement, B&G would supply approximately 100,000 bone dry metric tonnes of EFBF per year. The agreement has an initial term of 10 years and would see the companies work together during the design and pre-operation period of the Segamat biorefinery to accommodate delivery and storage areas and protocols for the EFBF.

Demonstration in the Netherlands

Next steps? Not much definitive towards project finance until Leaf’s integrated demonstration now underway in the Netherlands reaches the 1,000 operating hour mark with its phase 2 and 3 demonstrations. Phase 2 is underway. These validate the company’s Glycell process for producing industrial sugars and wiill provide the engineering data for the commercial-scale refinery. Phase 3 picks up in September. More on that here.

A development of note back in Australia

Leaf, as many know, is an Australian technology — and Queensland Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick tipped that Leaf is advancing plans to develop a bio-manufacturing hub in a sugar-cane producing region of Queensland. The Queensland Labor government is in strong support as a part of its biobased state development strategy.

“Leaf Resources, based at Eight Mile Plains, is proposing a biorefinery that would use patented technology known as Glycell to speed up and reduce the cost of converting plant waste such as sugarcane fibre into sustainable chemicals, biofuels and bioplastics,” Mr Dick said. “The company sees the potential for Glycell technology to support development of a bio-manufacturing hub in regional Queensland.”

Mr Dick said the company will use its funding from the Palaszczuk Government’s Biofutures Acceleration Program to now embark on validation works and pre-feasibility studies into plant waste and biomass.

“As part of these investigations, the company will explore locations for the proposed biorefinery, with a likely focus on Bundaberg, Mackay, the Burdekin and Far North Queensland,” he said.

The minister also noted that at BIO this month the Queensland government engaged with Calysta, Lygos, Genomatica, Gevo, and Agrisoma, and Mercurius Biorefining, and noted that “Through incentives from our $20 million Biofutures Roadmap and Action Plan, Mercurius is progressing plans to use plant waste to produce fuels, chemicals and plastics at commercial-scale biorefineries here in Queensland.”

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