Virdia opens its cellulosic sugar demonstration plant in Va.
Cellulosic sugar developer Virdia announced April 24 the opening of its demonstration facility at its new technology center in Danville, Va. Located on the campus for the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, the facility is designed to demonstrate Virdia’s trademarked CASE process in pilot scale, as well as produce commercially representative samples of cellulosic sugars and lignin for commercial applications.
“Siting our technology center and our demonstration facility in Virginia is the next key step towards commercial production for us,” said Philippe Lavielle, CEO of Virdia. “Virdia’s products are cost-competitive, and are setting new standards for industrial uses of cellulosic sugars and lignin. The technology is being established in pilot scale, and we now look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate it on an even larger scale. Looking ahead, our next step will be to site a commercial facility near sustainable sources of biomass.”
Founded in 2007, Virdia has developed a proprietary CASE process, which converts cellulosic biomass to high-quality fermentable sugars and lignin, and is based on a series of patented and patent-pending technologies. Applications for the sugars range from renewable fuels and fuel intermediates, renewable chemicals and materials, and nutritional additives for the animal feed industry. The high quality lignin in dry or soluble forms has proven to be a valuable feedstock for plant-based plastics and other thermo-chemical transformations. Virdia’s sugars are already being tested for use in several industries—most recently by Virent as a feedstock for high-performance drop-in jet fuels.
“Virdia is making huge strides in the emerging bioeconomy, and I am pleased the company has decided to site its new technology center in Virginia,” said Bob McDonnell, Governor of Virginia. “The development of sustainable and clean sources of energy is a necessary component of our all the above energy strategy, and Virginia is proud to welcome Virdia to the state in pursuance of cleaner energy, scientific innovation and economic stimulus.”
The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research was started in 2002 by the State of Virginia to bring technological growth to the area and revitalize the southern Virginia economy. The Sustainable Energy and Technology Center, where the Virdia facility is located, is a research and development center on the Institute campus that includes 25,000 square feet of research laboratories, spaces and offices. It was originally founded to develop enhanced biobased fuels and materials.
“Virdia is entirely in line with our vision for IALR and innovation on our campus, as their CASE process and subsequent products have the potential to serve a vast array of applications, from food to energy and beyond,” said Liam Leightley, executive director of IALR. “Virdia’s focus on renewing tomorrow with use of its high-quality cellulosic sugars will surely be pivotal in the success of the bioeconomy and, in turn, in meeting great societal needs.” A public ribbon-cutting event and tours will be held on April 25, attended by key stakeholders at the local, state and federal levels.