Waterdown, ON – A technology that could allow biofuels producers to increase both their profitability and competitiveness has received $5.5 million in funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC). The project, led by SunOpta BioProcess, will involve the construction of a facility to demonstrate an integrated process that aims to produce both food grade xylitol – a sugar substitute – and fuel grade cellulosic ethanol.
Using wood chips as feedstock, SunOpta’s technology is projected to decrease process water consumption by up to 75%, compared to producing corn ethanol, while retaining all of the life-cycle carbon benefits inherent to cellulosic ethanol. The proposed project involves the construction of a demonstration plant with a capacity to produce up to 620 tonnes of xylitol and two million litres of cellulosic ethanol per year.
“Successful commercialization of biofuel production technology relies upon capturing value from all of the major components in biomass feedstock. The SDTC funding will allow SunOpta BioProcess Inc to demonstrate its integrated process technology to produce biofuels from cellulose, bioenergy from lignin, and xylitol, a natural alternative sweetener and value-added product produced from xylan,” said Murray Burke, the company’s president.
The SDTC funding for SunOpta’s project will be leveraged with funding from members of its consortium, including Xylitol Canada and Emerald Forest Sugars.