Canadian firm plans cellulosic ethanol/xylitol plant near Toronto

16 July 2010 15:08  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--SunOpta is planning a demonstration project near Toronto to make cellulosic ethanol in co-production with xylitol, a sugar substitute, the diversified Canadian food and biofuels engineering firm said on Friday.

The company expected to select a site within the next two months, commercial development manager Christine James said. Capacities and financial details had not yet been finalised, she said.

The company said in a filing earlier this year that its subsidiary, SunOpta BioProcess, had been awarded Canadian dollar (C$) 5.5m ($5.3m) by Canada’s federal government to help develop the project, which would use wood chips as feedstock.

The co-production xylitol was expected to improve project economics, it said.

Following completion of the demonstration project, SunOpta would consider building a commercial facility, with capacities for 10,000 tonnes/year of xylitol and 40m litres/year of cellulosic ethanol, it said.

John Cummings, an independent Toronto-based chemical industry analyst, said Canada was currently importing all its xylitol, mostly from China.

Cummings noted that SunOpta's plan came as a large number of firms were racing to start up first commercial cellulosic production.

A number of those projects would co-produce higher margin products, such as xylitol, to improve their competitiveness, he said.

Last month, DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol (DDCE) - a joint venture between DuPont and Danisco - said it expected to start producing cellulosic ethanol on a commercial scale by 2013.

($1 = C$1.04)

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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