Pulp and Paper Canada

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Canfor forms JV for liquid biofuels


June 1, 2016
By Cindy Macdonald

Canfor Pulp has formed a joint venture with an Australian company to possibly integrate its Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor (Cat-HTR) upgrading platform into Canfor Pulp’s kraft and mechanical pulp mills to economically convert biomass, including wood residues from Canfor Pulp’s kraft pulping processes, into biocrude oil. The biocrude can then be used to produce next generation biofuels and biochemicals.

“The Cat-HTR process is a strong technical fit for the kraft process,” said Brett Robinson, president of CPPI. “The opportunity to directly produce advanced biofuels from our existing streams could transition Canfor Pulp from being strictly a pulp and paper manufacturer to a bio-energy producer as well. The Licella technology has significant similarities to our existing processes which makes this partnership a natural fit.”

The joint venture between Licella Fibre Fuels Pty Ltd. and Canfor Pulp Products Inc. will operate under the name Licella Pulp Joint Venture. If the Cat-HTR technology is successfully integrated, the Licella Pulp Joint Venture would look towards offering this solution to other, third-party kraft and mechanical pulp mills.

According to Canfor, refining this residue stream would allow Canfor Pulp to further optimize its pulp production capacity.

“Licella’s Cat-HTR technology may add significant value to Canfor Pulp’s kraft process by creating new products from Canfor Pulp’s waste streams,” said Len Humphreys, CEO of Licella. “What we are potentially building towards is a bio-refinery to utilize the entire tree, rather than part of the tree.”

According to Biofuels Digest, Licella’s process uses a supercritical water-based technology and catalysts to break up biomass and reform it into a drop-in fuel hydrocarbon.

The two companies have had a successful program of preliminary trials conducted on feedstock from Canfor Pulp’s Prince George, B.C., pulp mill at Licella’s pilot plants located in New South Wales, Australia. In these trials, wood residue streams from Canfor Pulp’s kraft process were successfully converted into a stable biocrude oil.

“Biofuels and biochemicals represent the next frontier in the utilization of sustainable wood fibre to produce green energy and chemicals,” said Don Kayne, CEO of CPPI. “This initiative underscores Canfor Pulp’s commitment to innovation and the importance of green energy and chemicals in our future product mix, and we look forward to developing this potentially transforming technology with Licella.”

Licella is a subsidiary of Ignite Energy Resources Ltd., which developed the Cat-HTR proprietary lignite and biomass upgrading platform. Licella uses the Cat-HTR platform to convert a variety of low-cost, non-edible biomass into a stable biocrude oil, which can be refined, in a conventional refinery, into next generation biofuels and biochemicals.

Canfor Pulp owns and operates three mills in Prince George, B.C., with a total capacity of 1.1 million tonnes of kraft pulp and 140,000 tonnes of kraft paper, as well as one mill in Taylor, B.C., with an annual production capacity of 220,000 tonnes of BCTMP.