Image

Wood petrochemical substitutes one step closer

21 March 2023

Bio-refinery start-up Futurity is launching a NZ$1.5 million commercialisation study into turning wood by-products into high-value chemicals. The study will involve working to commercialise technology developed in Europe to turn lignin waste from Oji’s pulp and paper mills into replacements for traditionally fossil fuel-based materials used in automotive, electronics and construction.

Ministry for Primary Industries is putting in NZ$600,000 from its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund towards the pilot, with Futurity, owned by co-founder and chairman Rupert Paterson’s venture capital firm Prospectors, putting up the remainder.

Chief executive Jacob Kohn said the enzyme technology it was looking to import from Finnish company MetGen Oy was currently operating at pilot scale rather than the commercialisation Futurity was looking to do. The tech works by breaking down the lignin into different sizes which are then separated with filtration units into three sizes with different properties.

“The real difference is that even a lot of what’s going on in Europe at the moment is focused on domestic markets for consumption,” said Kohn. “We’ve got a unique opportunity in New Zealand because of our geographic location being in close proximity to Asia Pacific, that we can focus on those markets and collectively, APEC as the largest consumer of chemicals in the world.”

Target areas

A key market the business wants to zone in on is the phenolic resins used as glue in plywood, MDF and other engineered wood products as well as electronics, semiconductors and brake pads. Another is the “polyol component” of polyurethane foams, which have applications in insulation, packaging, aviation and more.

The third key market is packaging, where Futurity’s tech could replace petrochemical sizing agents in cardboard that provide water resistance and strength properties. When the company started investigating markets over three years ago, it looked at 50 to 100 different potential applications before settling on the above targets after preliminary works.

“The reason we’ve landed on those is both because we’ve been able to demonstrate performance parity or advantages and we’ve also been able to demonstrate that we can either match the cost or provide a cost saver,” Kohn said.

Earlier works, which will stack up to NZ$3.5m by the end of this year, had also looked at applications of cellulose, another building block of wood, but saw the most potential in lignin. The company wants to revisit cellulose and hemicellulose down the line to enable it to utilise the whole tree.

Kohn said the value added to the input materials could be anywhere from 10 times to 50 times depending on the application. The pilot study is expected to wrap up next year.

More >>

Source: newsroom

Read More
Image

FIEA wood residues conference: time for action

Low carbon economies, extreme weather events, and building resilient domestic supply chains are critical issues in 2024 and beyond. In New Zealand, this has created opportunities for the forestry sector, including significant investments in forest residues. Harvesting regulations are mandating more wood be collected from the forest ...
Read more
Image

Successful trials of remote-controlled wood chip scraper

Nippon Paper, trucking company Iwakuni Sangyo Unyu successfully trial remote-controlled robot that scrapes wood chips in hold of wood-chip carrier at Iwakuni mill; scraping robot aims to address safety, workforce shortage in wood-chip scraping operations Through the development of the ...
Read more
Image

When it all falls down

This video tells the story of how New Zealand Forest Managers (NZFM) in Turangi, New Zealand dealt with a 3.4million + ton wind blow event in the central north island. In the video everything from before the cyclone in Feb ...
Read more
Image

NZ$300 million torrefied wood pellet planned

Plans to build New Zealand’s first plant to produce low emissions fossil free fuel to replace coal have moved a step closer with the signing of an agreement to lease a site at Kawerau. Australian listed company Foresta has announced the signing of ...
Read more
Image

Blenheim company turning wood chips into graphite

In New Zealand, a Blenheim company is turning wood chips and sawdust into graphite to be used in EV batteries. CarbonScape was founded in 2006 – with a focus on making carbon products using waste biomass like wood chips to ...
Read more
Image

Cheese from trees: Fonterra running on wood biomass

Fonterra’s Stirling manufacturing site is celebrating becoming the Co-op’s first manufacturing site in the South Island to get off coal and the first site to be running on 100% renewable thermal energy.  Moving to wood biomass means a reduction of 18,500 tonnes ...
Read more
Image

99% of Northland’s energy could be met through biomass

A new report, published by EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority), shows the significant role currently unutilised, forestry residues could play – as the region reduces its reliance on fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy. Up to 99% of Northland’s ...
Read more
Image

NZ forestry industry establishing pan sector body

Ten organisations have signed an accord establishing as a pan sector body. Called the NZ Forest & Wood Sector Forum (NZFWSF), NZ sector associations will engage on issues of common interest or concern to the national industry and act as a ...
Read more
Image

Wood biomass boiler swings into action

Fonterra’s NZ Waitoa manufacturing site is now using around 50% less coal as its new wood biomass boiler swings into action. Waitoa is the third Fonterra manufacturing site to reduce coal in 2023, as part of the Co-op’s plan to ...
Read more