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Lignin demo plant produces lignan for research


Thunder Bay, ON – FPInnovations in partnership with the Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio Economy (CRIBE), Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) and AbitibiBowater says it is now producing its first batches of operational lignin for Canadian researchers. Lignin is a residual substance from the pulping process which is a key component for the developing commercially viable fossil fuel alternatives.

The partners will also develop a world-class black liquor and lignin evaluation centre in Thunder Bay. At the core is the lignin demonstration plant, a state-of-the-art piece of equipment that ties directly into the black liquor stream of AbitibiBowater’s Thunder Bay kraft pulp mill. When fully operational, the demonstration plant will produce up to 100 kg of lignin per day, which will be shipped to a network of R&D labs across Canada that are developing novel uses for wood products.

Also on site is a lignin characterization lab, which currently employs three people, and will be increased up to six people as capacity grows. Lakehead University and its Biorefining Research Initiative will be closely linked to the ongoing research and will be training students and postdoctoral fellows at the facility.

The potential market for lignin-based products includes being used as a green alternative to petroleum-derived substances including fuels, resins, rubber additives, thermoplastic blends, nutra- and pharmaceuticals.

“It is with cutting-edge technologies and strong partnerships such as this one that FPInnovations is contributing to building the future of forestry in Canada,” said Pierre Lapointe, president and chief executive officer for FPInnovations. “The strong ties to Lakehead University are key to keeping technology and knowledge in the North. This only strengthens Lakehead’s Biorefining Research Initiative and other related science programs by creating linkages with labs across Canada.”