Thunder Bay demo plant produces lignin
FPInnovations employees Lou Morrow (left) and Peter Holt‐Hindle
(right) examine one of the lignin reaction vessels, part of the lignin
demonstration plant at AbitibiBowater’s Thunder Bay, Ontario, facility.
May 12, 2011, Thunder Bay, ON –
FPInnovations, in partnership with the Centre for Research and Innovation in
the Bio Economy (CRIBE), Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN), and AbitibiBowater,
is producing its first batches of operational lignin for Canadian researchers.
Lignin is a residual substance from the pulping process, and a key component
for developing commercially viable fossil fuel alternatives.
These partners will develop a world-class
black liquor and lignin evaluation centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario. 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/day of lignin, which will be shipped to a network of
research and development labs across Canada that are exploring novel uses for
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 is massive; lignin can be used as a green alternative to many
petroleum-derived substances such as fuels, resins, rubber additives, thermoplastic
blends, nutra- and pharmaceuticals, and other materials.
"The lignin evaluation plant provides
us an opportunity to move wood-based products beyond traditional markets,” says
Doug Murray, general manager of AbitibiBowater's Thunder Bay
operations. “We are pleased to have this innovative lab at our mill site
and look forward to continued progress."
"Whenever you create alternatives to
fossil fuels, you create solutions for generations to come,” says Frank
Dottori, chair of CRIBE. “Our wood basket has the potential to be more valuable
than ever, but it is essential that we capitalize on important R&D
opportunities like this one to maintain our competitive edge."