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FPInnovations and Resolute Forest Products announce biochemical pilot project investment in Ontario

FPInnovations, a Canada-based forest industry research organisation and Canada-headed forest products major Resolute Forest Products have announced a "significant investment" in the implementation of a TMP-Bio pilot project in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The pilot project will focus on developing new ways to efficiently produce and commercialize innovative biochemicals derived from wood, contributing to the development of a bioeconomy in Northern Ontario, as well as elsewhere in Canada.

“Northern Ontario has a wealth of innovative thinkers and leading researchers and this project helps to demonstrate how their ingenuity is creating business opportunities and growing the local economy. By investing to capitalize on our inherent strengths, we are helping to strengthen the local economy and create meaningful middle-class employment here in Thunder Bay and across the region,” said the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North on January 22 (photo courtesy FPInnovations).

According to a statement, the CA$21 million project is part of an initiative to renew and transform the forest products industry, building on investments made in 2012 by Resolute, the Ontario Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy (CRIBE), and Natural Resources Canada. This investment covers the cost of capital and R&D and has the support of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), CRIBE, FedNor, the City of Thunder Bay CEDC and Natural Resources Canada.

The world is looking for bioproducts made from sustainably-managed, non-food sources. Ontario is one of the largest biotech clusters in North America. By applying innovative solutions like the TMP-Bio Project, the forestry sector is creating new opportunities in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, said Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Research, Innovation and Science.

Resolute is contributing CA $3.5 million and hosting the pilot project at its Thunder Bay pulp and paper mill. TMP-Bio (thermal mechanical pulping) is a patented technology developed by FPInnovations with financial support from Natural Resources Canada’s Transformative Technologies Program. This project comes at a very opportune time as market interest for sustainably sourced green biochemicals and biofuels continue to build.

We are pleased to continue our strategic partnership with FPInnovations by providing both a host facility and financial support to this innovative venture. This project will help create opportunities to diversify the use of wood fibre into higher-value-added products, said Richard Garneau, President and CEO of Resolute Forest Products.

The development and availability of significant quantities of bio-sourced chemicals, such as the cellulosic sugars and high-quality H-lignin produced by the TMP-Bio process, is a key step in growing new market value for the forest products sector by connecting it to the biochemical supply chain.

This project highlights the importance of investing in de-risking new technologies and products and points the way for developing and delivering a transformative technology that contributes to the Canadian bioeconomy. This major initiative strengthens the industry’s position as a leader in the biorefinery sector, said Stéphane Renou, the recently appointed President and CEO of FPInnovations.

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