Sappi approves construction of demonstration plant for Xylitol and Furfural
Sappi has announced further progress in the development of its biorefinery capacity with the confirmation that it will construct a demonstration plant to further scale up its novel Xylex® technology for the production of Xylitol and Furfural. The plant will be located adjacent to the existing sugars and lignin extraction plant at Ngodwana Mill. It should be operational early in 2019. Pending successful results and further approvals it is anticipated that Sappi may construct commercial Xylitol and Furfural plants adjacent to our mills in the USA and South Africa.
Commenting on the decision Sappi CEO Steve Binnie said: “We are very happy with the progress being made by our biorefinery team, as well as with the value we are deriving from the acquisition and integration last year of the key biorefinery technologies and expert staff from Plaxica. Biomaterials and biochemicals are integral to Sappi’s strategy of extracting maximum value from wood fibre, our natural and renewable resource. We have taken a significant step towards generating meaningful revenue from this new business segment.”
Louis Kruyshaar, EVP for Sappi Biotech, explained: “Sappi’s biorefinery plans are focused on building a sustainable, profitable business from the manufacture and sale of food ingredients, materials and chemical intermediates derived from the C5 sugars produced as a co-product of our dissolving wood pulp production, and from the lignin produced in our global pulp production.”
The combination of Sappi’s operational excellence, the proposed co-location of the commercial plants at existing mill sites delivers strong integration synergies, and the cost advantages offered by Sappi’s scale and the Xylex® technology mean that Sappi will have a globally competitive cost base for sugars and xylitol and furfural production.
Turning to the products which the demonstration plant will provide a platform for, Kruyshaar said: “Xylitol is a high-value sweetener with exciting growth prospects - it is a low-calorie sweetener which has positive dental properties and produces no insulin response, so is suitable for diabetics. Furfural is a versatile green industrial chemical derived from C5 sugars with a diverse range of derivatives.”
A quick overview of the development of Sappi’s sugars extraction capacity: