Canadian Manufacturing

Comet Biorefining to build new plant in Sarnia, Ont.

Biochemical firm will set up shop at Trans Alta Energy Park, where BioAmber's succinic acid plant opened last year

London, Ont.—Southwestern Ontario is getting another bio-refinery.

Biochemical startup Comet Biorefining Inc. has announced Trans Alta Energy Park in Sarnia, Ont. as the site for its first commercial-scale facility that will produce sugars using biomass.

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

The plant will be designed to produce 60 million pounds (about 27 million kilograms) of dextrose sugar per year using corn stover and wheat straw sourced locally. The company will then use its patented process to convert the sugars into organic acids, amino acids and bio-plastics. The process consumes residues left in fields after crop harvesting, such as stalks, leaves, husks and cobs. The bio-based sugars can replace materials currently produced using petroleum products, slashing greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining cost-competitive prices.

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

Comet is working with both the OFA and Bioindustrial Innovation Canada on the project after previously establishing a demonstration-scale project in Rotondella, Italy.

The new plant is expected to come online in 2018 and could help establish Sarnia as a hot spot for the bio-refining industry. BioAmber’s succinic acid plant plant opened in the same complex in Sarnia last year.

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