Comet Biorefining announces its commercial-scale biomass-derived sugar facility in Sarnia


Comet Biorefining, a leading provider of sustainable and cost-competitive cellulosic dextrose technology for applications in renewable biochemicals and biofuels, has announced the location of its commercial-scale biomass-derived sugar facility in the TransAlta Energy Park in Sarnia, Ontario. The 60 million pounds per year plant will come online in 2018, producing dextrose sugar from locally-sourced corn stover and wheat straw. Corn stover consists of residues left in the field after harvest including stalks, leaves, husks and cobs.

Using its proprietary patented process, Comet converts non-food agricultural and forest residues into high-purity dextrose sugars that will be transformed into bio-based products including organic acids, amino acids and bioplastics. These low-carbon bio-based products replace traditional petroleum-based materials, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help contribute to Canada’s efforts on climate change. Comet dextrose – the company writes in a note – “is cost- and performance-competitive with commercial dextrose sugars, the benchmark raw material for today’s biochemical production”.

Comet chose to locate in Sarnia by working together with Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC), the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and an Ontario farmers’ cooperative on a project to attract sustainable technology providers to the region and to meet increasing demand from chemical suppliers and consumers for low-carbon products.

According to Andrew Richard, Ceo of Comet, “construction of this first-of-a-kind plant represents a key step towards the large-scale commercialization of our cellulosic sugar business.  It highlights the important role our technology plays in the value chain, helping to drive the bioeconomy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Comet’s cellulosic sugar technology was one of the clean sustainable technologies recommended, with the best fit for the region and an excellent opportunity to accelerate the growth of the bioeconomy in rural Ontario”, noted Murray McLaughlin, executive director, BioIndustrial Innovation Canada.

“Establishing new uses for agricultural residues in the bio-based chemical supply chain leads to sustainable farms and new markets.  Both outcomes are primary goals of the OFA, and this project does just that,” said Don McCabe, OFA’s president.

Comet Biorefining operates a demonstration scale plant in Rotondella, South Italy (Basilicata Region). Last year, the Canadian company announced the closing of a funding round led by Sofinnova Partners. Comet is using the proceeds to complete the design of its commercial facility, expand the team and continue to develop commercial partnerships.

“Comet brings a paradigm shift to the cellulosic glucose market”, stated Joško Bobanovic, Comet director and Sofinnova Green Seed Fund Partner. “This scaled up, unique and robust technology enables production of cost competitive high-quality cellulosic glucose thus enabling many players to switch in the near term to non-food renewable feedstocks while improving margins.”

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