Partnering with local farmers to convert agricultural residues into sustainable ingredients

Comet Biorefining
April 27, 2018
Written by Comet Biorefining
Figure 1: Comet’s Sustainable Ingredient System
Figure 1: Comet’s Sustainable Ingredient System Graphic//Comet Biorefining
April 27, 2018 - Ingredient technology and manufacturing company Comet has developed a technology that converts farmers’ agricultural residues into high-quality, sustainable ingredients.

 

Agricultural residues, often referred to as biomass, are materials left in a farmer’s field after the primary crop has been harvested. Examples include corn stover, and wheat straw. By partnering with local farmers through the Cellulosic Sugar Producers Cooperative (CSPC), we can convert these residues into higher value products. Comet and CSPC help close the loop on our food system and improve the economics of farming by giving farmers an opportunity to earn more money per acre.

The first step in Comet’s proprietary ingredient system begins with agricultural residues  —  wheat straw, corn stover, or forest products — being delivered to our facility. To lower costs and reduce the environmental impact of our process, all Comet facilities will be located in close proximity to where residues are harvested. The residues are then separated into component parts, converted and purified to become commercial grade Dextrose, HCE and Lignin, and eventually shipped off to customers.

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Our products are valuable ingredients for the food and beverage, animal nutrition, and biomaterials markets. In fact, our products are the highest grade and purity, and because they are produced in such a sustainable manner, many of our customers will use our ingredients to comply with their sustainable sourcing strategies.

However, the key to the success of this system is our ability to secure an ongoing, consistent, and quality supply of agricultural residues to be used as our input material. For perspective, when our commercial facility in Sarnia, Ont., is up and running, it will process approximately 180 tonnes of agricultural residues per day. Securing such a large volume of agricultural residues requires the development of an entirely new supply chain that can get residues to our facility efficiently and affordably.

To overcome this hurdle, we have partnered with the Cellulosic Sugar Producers Co-operative (CSPC), an Ontario-based farmer co-op. The co-op will harvest corn stover and wheat straw from its numerous local farmer members and deliver them to our jointly-owned commercial facility where they will be processed into sustainable ingredients. This unique partnership establishes a sustainable biomass supply chain that is essential for us to commercialize our technology and maintain consistent production.

CSPC recruits members from across the region by giving farmers a chance to participate in, and profit from, this emerging supply chain. This gives farmers an opportunity to establish a new market for their crop residues and generate higher profits per acre without having to invest in more valuable land.

Our partnership with CSPC establishes the critical piece that allows us to close the loop on our food system and change the way ingredients are made. It is a win for farmers, a win for Comet, a win for the environment, and a win for the Canadian bioeconomy as a whole.

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