Origin Materials moving development facility to research park

September 27, 2017

 A California-based bio-chemical company set to open a commercial-scale demonstration plant in 2018 at the Arlanxeo site in Chemical Valley is already expanding in Sarnia.

 

It was announced this week that Origin Materials is moving a pilot plant it purchased from Tennessee-based Eastman Chemicals to the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park, next to Modeland Road.

 

 Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, a government-funded agency based in Sarnia, said in a news release it is supporting the $6-million pilot plant project in partnership with Lambton College and the research park.

 

“We’re quite excited about it,” Origin Materials CEO John Bissell said Wednesday.

 

“We really wanted to establish what we’ve been calling a ‘beachhead’ in Sarnia.”

 

Initially, the company plans to use the oxidation pilot plant at the research park to work with terephthalic acid, “but we’re probably going to expand it to some other chemicals,” he said.

 

Oxidation is “on the trickier side” of chemical processes and “the staff and the safety culture in Sarnia is just incredibly important to us,” Bissell added.

 

“It makes a lot more comfortable than a lot of the other places you can imagine starting something like this up.”

Bioindustrial Innovation Canada and others in Sarnia involved in the pilot plant project “have been spectacular to work with, and invaluable in getting this all sorted out,” Bissell said.

 

Origin Materials is a startup company that uses bio-based materials, like wood chips and cardboard, to make building block chemicals used in the manufacturing of plastics and other products.

 

“We’re expecting to hire something like a half dozen or so people, operators and engineers,” for the pilot plant, Bissell said.

 

“We’re installing it right now.”

 

It will be in addition to a “pioneer” commercial-scale demonstration plant Origin Materials is working to build at the Arlanxeo site in Sarnia to make bio-chemicals for the manufacturing of polymers and other products.

 

That project, announced in June, is being supported by an investment from Bioindustrial Innovation Canada.

 

Origin Materials has already begun recruiting staff for the pioneer plant.

 

“Some of the positions for a plant like that, you’ve got to get pretty far ahead of when the plant starts up in order for them to get fully up to speed and fully integrated,” Bissell said.

 

Along with purchasing the pilot plant from Tennessee-based Eastman Chemicals, Origins Materials is licensing that company’s technology for producing 2,5-Furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) from renewable resources.

 

The technology will allow Original Materials to produce FDCA monomer its customers can use to develop bottles, films and other plastics from the company’s intermediate chemicals, according to Bissell.

 

Danone and Nestle Waters announced earlier this year they had formed an alliance with Origin Materials to develop and launch a plastic bottle made from 100 per cent sustainable and renewable bio-based material.

 

Bioindustrial Innovation Canada said in a news release it will provide Origin Materials with advice, services and financial support to as it brings its bio-based chemicals to market.

 

Sandy Marshall, executive director of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, said he doesn’t believe the pilot plant was part of the company’s plans for Sarnia when it first arrived in the community.

 

“What they found when they came here is it’s a very collaborative community, and there’s lots of support, locally and at the federal and provincial levels,” Marshall said.

 

The region is also home to colleges and universities able to support research and development, he said.

“They felt that moving this facility here would take advantage of that ecosystem.”

 

Origin Materials is one of several bio-chemical companies attracted to Sarnia-Lambton since officials in the community began targeting the sector as a good fit with the existing petrochemical industries.

 

“This is a pretty significant pilot plant that they’re building,” Marshall said.

 

“It’s for application development of the products they’re going to make in their plant that they’re building in Sarnia” as well as an existing pilot plant the company has in California, he said.

 

“They’re actually going to be investing in innovation and research and development in the community, not just building their demonstration commercial plant here,” Marshall said.

 

“It’s through that innovation that we get those high quality jobs.”

 

Once companies build production and research and development facilities in a location, they “become very committed to the community, and that’s really positive from an economic development perspective,” he said.

 

Marshall added Origin Materials is working with well-known companies, such as Eastman Chemicals, Danone and Nestle on developing a market for bio-based bottles and food packaging.

 

“This is a whole new platform of technology for Sarnia,” he said.

 

“BioAmber was a really big deal. This is as big a deal as that.”

 

Montreal-based BioAmber opened a plant in 2015 at the Arlanxeo site in Sarnia where approximately 60 employees work making the building-block chemical bio-succinic acid from corn syrup.

 

[email protected]

 

 

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

Featured Posts

Government Invests in Canada's First National Bioeconomy Strategy to Help Grow a Clean Economy

May 14, 2019

1/2
Please reload

Recent Posts
Please reload

Archive
Please reload

Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square

© 2019. All Rights Reserved.

Bioindustrial Innovation Canada
1086 Modeland Road, Sarnia, ONT, Canada, N7S 6L2

Email: [email protected] 

Tel: 1.226.778.0020