by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Monday’s announcement of a new industrial plant coming to Sarnia marks the beginning of a new market for agricultural products, says a Lambton farmer who is well acquainted with bioproduct development.
BioAmber, Inc., a U.S. renewable chemistry company, through its subsidiary Bluewater Biochemicals will establish a biosuccinic acid plant in Sarnia.
“This is a new market that’s opening up,” says Lambton County farmer Don McCabe, vice president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and also vice chair of the Bioindustrial Innovation Centre in Sarnia. “This isn’t ethanol for biofuel; this is for a chemical, and it’s a platform chemical that will have many, many uses,” says McCabe.
According to BioAmber and Ontario government press releases, succinic acid is made from glucose, which is made from corn. It is a renewable, non-toxic chemical that can be used to make products ranging from plastic automotive parts and disposable cutlery to spandex, food ingredients, road salts and engine coolants.
BioAmber plans to have the Sarnia plant, the world’s first commercial biosuccinic acid plant, running by 2013. Initially the plant will have capacity to generate 17,000 metric tonnes of the chemical with plans to double that by 2014. Currently, BioAmber produces the chemical at a 3,000 MT capacity plant in France.
The company received $35 million in federal and provincial grants and loans to locate in Sarnia. It estimates that its first phase will generate 150 construction jobs and 40 full time jobs. More jobs will be added “as investments are made in additional manufacturing that can transform locally produced biosuccinic acid into value added products,” the news release said.
“With BioAmber choosing to come to this area and make the first step, this is possibly going to motivate a number of other companies to follow suit to this area and their needs will vary,” McCabe says. “They’re not all going to require corn; some will require other feedstocks.” BF