AgriLink and OFA Release
Earlier this month, a group of corn producers from Southwestern Ontario heard some very positive news about opportunities for sustaining a commercially viable cellulosic sugar plant near Sarnia. The feed stock would be corn stover. This plant would produce sugars used for production of green chemicals.
The report was prepared by researchers at the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus. Study co-author, Randy Duffy, said, “At the farm level, corn producers could benefit by moving up the value chain and addressing some agronomic issues by removing excess stover. The utilization of cellulosic sugar produced from corn stover to produce green chemicals would reduce the environmental footprint through lower greenhouse gas emissions and increased carbon credits.”
The objective of the study was to examine the costs associated with the harvest, aggregation and delivery of corn stalks to a commercial plant and to determine the most viable business model to enable producers to capture a greater share of the value chain while offering a commercial facility stable feedstock supply.
The Ridgetown study showed the region could supply cornstalks and other biomass crops at competitive rates. They suggest over 250,000 tonnes of cornstalks could be aggregated for a cellulosic sugar facility. It also suggests a bioprocessing co-operative model where agricultural producers are both feedstock suppliers and co-investors in the processing infrastructure was the most viable structure examined, benefiting everyone in the value chain.
The consortium backing the Ridgetown study was represented by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Grain Farmers of Ontario, AGRIS Co-operative, Ontario AgriFood Technologies, BioIndustrial Innovation Centre, Midori Renewables, BioAmber and LANXESS covering the full value chain from feedstock producers to biochemical plants. Both federal and provincial officials participated in an advisory capacity.