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01/19/2010 09:33 AM     print story email story  

Cellulosic Ethanol Process Produces Sugar-Substitute Byproduct

SustainableBusiness.com News

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) has awarded a project led by SunOpta BioProcess Inc. up to C$5.5 million in funding for the construction of a facility to demonstrate its integrated process that aims to produce both food grade xylitol--a healthy sugar substitute--and fuel grade cellulosic ethanol.

SunOpta BioProcess is an 86% owned subsidiary of SunOpta Inc. (NASDAQ: STKL; TSX: SOY).

Using wood chips as feedstock, SunOpta's technology is projected to decrease process water consumption by up to 75% compared to producing corn ethanol while retaining all of the life-cycle carbon benefits inherent to cellulosic ethanol. The proposed project involves the construction of a demonstration plant with a capacity to produce up to 620 tons of xylitol and two million liters of cellulosic ethanol per year.

"The generation of valuable co-products advances the economic opportunity created by the production of biofuels," said SDTC President and CEO Vicky Sharpe. "Technologies like SunOpta's that have both environmental and economic benefits help Canada achieve its biofuels objectives and build a bio-based economic sector, adding value to the agriculture and forestry industries."

The SDTC funding for SunOpta's project will be leveraged with funding from members of its consortium, including Xylitol Canada and Emerald Forest Sugars Inc.

"Successful commercialization of biofuel production technology relies upon capturing value from all of the major components in biomass feedstock. The SDTC funding will allow SunOpta BioProcess Inc. to demonstrate its integrated process technology to produce biofuels from cellulose, bioenergy from lignin, and xylitol, a natural alternative sweetener and value-added product produced from xylan," said SunOpta BioProcess Inc. President Murray Burke.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) is an arm's-length foundation created by the government of Canada with about $1.05 billion in funding. SDTC operates two funds aimed at the development and demonstration of innovative technological solutions. The $550 million SD Tech Fund(TM) supports projects that address climate change, air quality, clean water, and clean soil.

The $500 million NextGen Biofuels Fund(TM) supports the establishment of first-of-kind large demonstration-scale facilities for the production of next-generation renewable fuels. SDTC operates as a not-for-profit corporation and has been working with the public and private sector including industry, academia, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the financial community and all levels of government to achieve this mandate.

Website: www.sdtc.ca



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