Lignol and Weyerhaeuser to Collaborate on Commercial Development of Cellulose-based Products and Biochemicals
Lignol Energy Corporation, a cellulosic ethanol and biochemical company, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Weyerhaeuser Company to explore the development of commercial applications of biochemical outputs from Lignol’s proprietary biorefining technology.
The parties have also agreed to evaluate the development of a commercial-scale Lignol biorefinery plant at or near a Weyerhaeuser mill site. The MOU excludes applications for transportation fuel. The initial scope of the MOU involves the testing of certain biomass feedstocks within Lignol’s facilities, including the company’s integrated industrial-scale biorefinery pilot plant located in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Lignol uses a modified solvent based pre-treatment technology for cellulosic biomass, originally developed by a former affiliate of General Electric, and then further developed and commercialized for wood-pulp applications by a subsidiary of Repap Enterprises Inc. The technology produces a clean pulp that converts biomass feedstock rapidly into fermentable sugars with high yield and lower enzyme costs.
The process also produces co-products with revenues that mitigate the costs of production and commodity risks, including a high-quality cellulose fiber with applications in certain specialty markets and high-purity lignin (HP-L Lignin), an organic compound that is differentiated from other types of lignins that are typically produced as by-products in the traditional Kraft pulp manufacturing process.
Unique chemical and physical properties of HP-L Lignin include: greater purity; an absence of sulfur; low mineral content; hydrophobic properties; and higher reactivity. Lignol has developed novel methods to produce different lignins from each of the non-food cellulosic feedstocks it has processed.
Materials with novel properties can be developed from HP-L Lignin. For example, HP-L Lignin can be blended with industrial adhesives such as phenol formaldehyde, isocyanates and epoxy resins that can be used in coatings, and as a precursor for carbon fiber production, thereby reducing the use of and dependency on petrochemicals.
As part of the Lignol-Weyerhaeuser MOU, the two companies will assess yields and qualities of the biorefinery process outputs, including the cellulose fibers and HP-L Lignin, for commercial potential and evaluate the development of a commercial-scale Lignol biorefinery plant at or near a Weyerhaeuser mill site.
Earlier in September, Lignol and HA International, North America’s largest supplier of products for foundry core and mold production, announced a Joint Development Agreement for the development of commercial applications incorporating Lignol’s HP-L in foundry binders and associated applications.
Lignol Innovations Inc., the US subsidiary of Canada-based Lignol Energy Corp., is building a cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant in Grand Junction, Colorado. In January 2008, the US Department of Energy (DOE) approved Lignol’s funding application for a proposed cellulosic ethanol plant, including up to US$30 million in funding to construct the facility. (Earlier post.)
The proposed facility will be designed to process hard and soft woods and agricultural residues such as straw and corn stover. Lignol expects the facility, once operational, will process about 100 tonnes of feedstock per day and produce approximately 10 million liters of ethanol per year.