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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.

Comments

sjc

"...and as a precursor for carbon fiber production..."

It would be really something to make cellulose bio fuels and as part of the process be able to produce less expensive carbon fiber body parts for lighter and more fuel efficient cars.

Pulpmillguy

About three or four years ago I worked on a project to install a new pulp washer at Weyco pulp mill (now a Domtar mill) in Rothschild. A pulp washer basically takes the cooked pulp and, you guessed it, washes it with water to separate out the spent chemicals and separated lignin.

At Rothschild they collected the spent liquor and instead of burning it sent it to another company which processed it. http://www.lignotech.com/

The difference here is that Rothschild used the sulfite process for pulping wood, so I believe all the lignin will be sulfonated.

Lignol uses an organsolv pulping process (pulping using organic solvents) without the addition of sulfur chemicals so the lignin they produce may be purer.

bioguy

High-value byproducts are fine at first, but if they start making billions of gallons of fuel per year by this process, there won't be enough of a market for those byproducts to support the high prices they are expecting to get.

Kind of like biodiesel and glycerol. The early BD plants got very high prices for their glycerol byproduct, but eventually the increased supply caused to prices to drop ... a lot. People need to understand that the energy business is far bigger than everything else - food, chemicals, materials, etc. Markets for byproducts can only assimilate so much new supply at a fixed demand before prices collapse.

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