Canadian Biomass Magazine

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West Fraser begins lignin production

April 6, 2016 – West Fraser has begun lignin production at its pulp mill in Hinton, Alberta.


April 6, 2016
By Andrew Macklin

The state-of-the art facility, which recovers lignin from the pulping operation using a novel technology, and transform this wood byproduct into useful, environmentally friendly bioproduct, began production in March.

“Innovation can open new markets and commercial opportunities for our forest industry, which plays a crucial role in further diversifying our economy and strengthening our rural communities and the province as a whole,” said Oneil Carlier, Alberta Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.

West Fraser will develop the use of lignin as a natural adhesive in its engineered wood products – as a renewable substitute for certain synthetic resin components currently derived from fossil fuels. Examples of other potential applications include green chemicals (bio alternatives to petroleum-based chemicals), thermoplastic composites (advanced mouldable materials), and packaging.  

The startup of a lignin recovery plant is a major innovation in the forest industry and represents a significant milestone in the growth of the Alberta bioeconomy, said Steve Price, CEO of Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions.

“Foresters have long been searching for ways to put lignin to better use,” Price noted. “The ability to recover lignin and transform it into green bioproducts will add more value to an abundant Alberta biomass and contribute to the provincial economy in a sustainable way,” Price said.

Ted Seraphim, president and CEO of West Fraser, said the company recognizes the strategic importance of continuing to develop the company in a manner that fully utilizes the forest resource. West Fraser has been at the forefront in bioenergy and bioproduct development in Western Canada and the lignin project is the next step.

“Lignin is an opportunity to expand our product line and recover the maximum value from our fibre and our manufacturing process,” Seraphim said. “This technology has the potential to be a new product offering for all pulp mills in Canada. In addition, it is a sustainable choice. Every tonne of lignin substituted in phenol-formaldehyde resin prevents a tonne of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere,” he said.

The $30-million plant was made possible through joint funding by industry and government.


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