Ontario’s Sarnia chem hub gears for biofuels

12 July 2006 20:47  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--Ontario, Canada’s petrochemicals hub at Sarnia is well-placed to become a leading North American biofuels and biotech cluster, an area leader said on Wednesday.

Some of the key Sarnia-based chemicals and energy firms - including Nova Chemicals, Suncor, and Lanxess - are working towards a goal of having 20% of product made there coming from bio-tech derived feedstock by 2014, said George Mallay, an executive with the Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership.

The area in southwest Ontario near Detroit in the US is positioned to establish itself as a “bio-hybrids” economy, Mallay said. The region can build on the expertise and cooperation of some 16 chemicals and petrochemicals majors who have operations there. The Sarnia-based chemicals firms are innovative, especially in terms of feedstock flexibility, he said.

Sarnia-Lambton is Ontario's pre-eminent agricultural area, leading the province in production of wheat and soybean, which are potential future feedstocks for chemicals and plastics.

Suncor has just started up a corn-based ethanol plant at Sarnia, Mallay said. Ontario’s ethanol sector is supported by a Can$520m ($463m/€365m) government promotion fund, he added. Sarnia-Lambton is also seeking to attract bio-fuels and bio-tech investments outside ethanol.

The area boasts a strong infrastructure, including amble power supplies and available land. Its biotech ambitions are supported by three leading universities in the area - the University of Western Ontario at London, the University of Waterloo and the University of Guelph, Mallay said.

Mallay was addressing delegates at the 3rd World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing in Toronto. The three-day event, attended by some 1,100 delegates from around the world, ends on Friday.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
+1 713 525 2653

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