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Domtar acquires majority stake in Prisma Renewable Composites

US-headed pulp and paper major Domtar Corporation (Domtar) has announced it has acquired a majority interest in Prisma Renewable Composites, LLC (Prisma), a company focused on developing advanced materials from lignin and other natural resources. With its investment, Domtar will help commercialize the process of using lignin to make engineered plastic compounds such as Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) and other high-value fiber and lignin applications.

The Domtar Nekoosa pulp and paper mill in Wisconsin, US (photo courtesy Domtar).

The Domtar Nekoosa pulp and paper mill in Wisconsin, US is one of 13 Domtar pulp and paper production facilities in North America. In total, the company has 29 production facilities in North America and Europe producing soft- and hardwood pulp, specialty pulp, paper, personal care, and hygiene products, lignin and biomaterial products (photo courtesy Domtar).

Lignin – the natural glue that holds wood fibres together – is a byproduct of the Kraft pulping process that has traditionally been burned to provide energy to a mill. However, it also has the potential to be used in a wide range of industrial applications as a sustainable and bio-degradable alternative to petroleum and other fossil fuels.

Prisma Renewable Composites, LLC is a spin-off of TennEra, LLC. Operating between academia and industry, and having license agreements with both Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Prisma’s technology includes lignin-derived thermoplastic co-polymers, polymer blend compositions, lignin-acrylonitrile polymer blends, and its patented lignin fractionation process, evolUTIATM, a process that creates very pure lignin and cellulose streams.

We are excited about this partnership with Domtar. We believe their commercialization plans and capabilities give Prisma an incredible advantage in establishing a robust supply chain from lignin to the final material production, said Adam McCal, CEO, Prisma.

Domtar developing lignin-based materials

Domtar is a leader in lignin separation and the development of lignin-based materials, and, today the company supplies commercial-grade lignin in dried, compounded and modified lignin granules/pellets, as well as lignin-polymer blends.

Dried lignin powder (photo courtesy Domtar).

Dried lignin powder is one lignin-based commercial product that Domtar supplies (photo courtesy Domtar).

According to the company, lignin development and the use of lignin as a biomaterial has gained momentum in the past few years. In 2013, the company installed a commercial-scale lignin separation plant in Plymouth, North Carolina.

The company recently installed a demonstration plant in Ontario, Canada, to show how lignin pellets can potentially be used as a bio-alternative to plastic, chemicals and other petroleum-based products. This project has garnered interest from several industries, as well as support from provincial and federal governments, specifically through Natural Resources Canada’s Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program.

Innovation is core to Domtar Biomaterials’ growth strategy. We’re pleased to have the opportunity to partner with an industry leading renewable composite company. Domtar Biomaterials is a bridge between science and commercialization. This investment leverages Prisma’s scientific research capabilities and unique product development strategy with Domtar’s commercialization and lignin production expertise, said Mark DeAndrea, Vice President, Domtar Biomaterials.

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