Canadian Manufacturing

Ontario biochemical plant lands $7M grant from federally-funded SDTC

by Cleantech Canada Staff   

Cleantech Canada
Financing Cleantech BioAmber biochemical Ontario SDTC

Biochemical plant in Sarnia, Ont., will produce 30,000 tonnes of succinic acid annually

SARNIA, Ont.—A biochemical plant in southwestern Ontario has secured further funding for construction of the facility, this time a $7-million grant from the federally-funded Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).

According to Minnesota-based BioAmber Inc., its joint venture succinic acid plant in Sarnia, Ont., received the funding from SDTC as construction of the $135-million plant continues.

When complete, the facility will be Canada’s first bio-chemical plant, and the world’s largest succinic acid production plant.

“Commercializing an innovative, clean technology that is cost disruptive to the petrochemical industry is a major undertaking, and it needs government support to become a reality,” BioAmber executive vice-president Mike Hartmann said in a statement.

“We are making chemicals cleaner and cheaper than the petrochemical route, and this will translate into lasting environmental and economic benefits for Canada.”

The $7-million grant from SDTC is in addition to another $7.5-million grant BioAmber Sarnia Inc. received from the government-funded not-for-profit organization in 2012, and just days after it announced a $20-million loan from a consortium led by Export Development Canada (EDC).

According to BioAmber, the additional SDTC financing was secured after the scope of the Sarnia plant was expanded, with production capacity nearly doubling to 30,000 tonnes annually from 17,000 tonnes.

The SDTC grant also supports the switch to BioAmber’s second-generation yeast, according to the company, which it claims proved to be “significantly more cost competitive” than the original bacteria-based fermentation slated to run at the plant.

A joint venture between BioAmber and Japan’s Mitsui & Co., Ltd., the plant will see more than 90 per cent of its 30,000-tonne annual capacity exported.

BioAmber said it has “secured significant demand” for production, particularly in Asia, where it has signed a take-or-pay deal with PTT MCC Biochem Co., Ltd., a joint venture between Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. and Thai state-owned PTT Public Co. Ltd., for the guaranteed sale of roughly 20 per cent of the plant’s capacity.

The company said it has also signed 19 supply and distribution agreements and eight memorandum of understanding that, when combined, exceed the plant’s annual capacity.

Produced using corn-derived feedstock, succinic acid is used to manufacture paints, plastics, resins, de-icers, pharmaceuticals, solvents, food additives, fabrics and cosmetics.

The process replaces the conventional production method that uses petrochemicals and is carbon neutral.


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