Thermochemical pulp biorefinery opens in Ontario

By Erin Voegele | May 28, 2019

FPInnovations and Resolute Forest Products Inc. announced May 27 the commissioning of a new pilot biorefinery that converts wood biomass into lignin and sugars. On the same day, the Canadian government awarded C$2 million to the project.

The TMP-Bio pilot plant, located in Thunder Bay, Ontario, features a patented thermomechanical technology developed by FPInnovations. The facility has the capacity to treat 100 metric tons of biomass annually. Lignin and sugars produced at the facility will be used in the development of innovative biobased products, such as wood adhesives, animal feed and composites.

FPInnovations and Resolute Forest Products joined forces in early 2018 to build the facility, which is located at Resolute’s Thunder Bay pulp and paper mill. The C$23 million project is part of an initiative to renew and transform the Canadian forest products industry, building on investments by Resolute, the Ontario Center for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy, and Natural Resources Canada. The project also has the support of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp., FedNor, the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, in addition to contributions in research and applications from the Quebec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks and the Nova Scotia Innovation Hub.   

Natural Resources Canada announced a $2 million investment in TMP-Bio plant during the facility’s inauguration through its Clean Growth Program. The investment builds on the $5.8 previously provided for the project by the Canadian government. The new funding will support the development of the process by which FPInnovations converts wood sugars to biomaterials, which will help create a viable wood-to-chemicals industry that can help diversity the forest-based economy in rural communities.