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Pilot lignin plant begins production in Thunder Bay

A lignin demonstration plant that ties directly into the black liquor stream of AbitibiBowater's Thunder Bay kraft pulp mill is now producing its first batches of operational lignin for Canadian researchers. The project is a partnership...


May 17, 2011
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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A lignin demonstration plant that ties directly into the black liquor stream of AbitibiBowater’s Thunder Bay kraft pulp mill is now producing its first batches of operational lignin for Canadian researchers. The project is a partnership between FPInnovations, the Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio Economy (CRIBE), Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN), and AbitibiBowater.

These partners will develop a world-class black liquor and lignin evaluation centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  At the core is the lignin demonstration plant. When fully operational, this unique demonstration plant will produce up to 100 kg of lignin per day, which will be shipped to a network of R&D labs across Canada that are developing novel uses for wood products.

Also on site is a lignin characterization lab, which currently employs three people, and will be increased up to six people as capacity grows. Lakehead University and its Biorefining Research Initiative will be closely linked to the ongoing research and will be training students and postdoctoral fellows at the facility.

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The potential market for lignin-based products is large; lignin can be used as a green alternative to many petroleum-derived substances, such as fuels, resins, rubber additives, thermoplastic blends, nutra- and pharmaceuticals.

“The lignin evaluation plant provides us an opportunity to move wood-based products beyond traditional markets. We are pleased to have this innovative lab at our mill site and look forward to continued progress,” stated Doug Murray, general manager of AbitibiBowater’s Thunder Bay Operations.  “We feel very fortunate to be part of this initiative.”

The Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy is a provincial initiative to transform the forest products industry in Northern Ontario.

FPInnovations is a not-for-profit R&D and innovation organization that is positioned to perform research, innovate and deliver state-of-the-art solutions for every area of the forest value chain, from genetics and harvesting operations to wood and paper products and beyond.


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