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Comet Biorefining will build its commercial-scale biomass-derived sugar facility in the TransAlta Energy Park in Sarnia, Ontario.

The 60 million lbs/y plant will come online in 2018 producing dextrose sugar from locally-sourced corn stover and wheat straw.

Corn stover consists of residues left in the field after harvest, including stalks, leaves, husks, and cobs.

Using its proprietary patented process, Comet converts non-food agricultural and forest residues into high-purity dextrose sugars that will be transformed into bio-based products, such as organic acids, amino acids, and bioplastics.

These low-carbon bio-based products replace traditional petroleum-based materials, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help contribute to Canada’s efforts on climate change, the company says.

Andrew Richard, CEO of Comet, said: “Construction of this first-of-a-kind plant represents a key step towards the large-scale commercialisation of our cellulosic sugar business. It highlights the important role our technology plays in the value chain, helping to drive the bioeconomy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Comet dextrose is cost- and performance-competitive with commercial dextrose sugars, the benchmark raw material for today’s biochemical production.

Comet chose to locate in Sarnia by working together with Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC), the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), and an Ontario farmers’ cooperative on a project to attract sustainable technology providers to the region and to meet increasing demand from chemical suppliers and consumers for low-carbon products.

“Comet’s cellulosic sugar technology was one of the clean sustainable technologies recommended, with the best fit for the region and an excellent opportunity to accelerate the growth of the bioeconomy in rural Ontario”, noted Murray McLaughlin, executive director at BIC.

“Establishing new uses for agricultural residues in the bio-based chemical supply chain leads to sustainable farms and new markets.  Both outcomes are primary goals of the OFA, and this project does just that,” said Don McCabe, OFA’s President.