Licella, Canfor form joint venture for biocrude production

By Erin Voegele | June 02, 2016

Australia-based Licella Fibre Fuels Pty Ltd. and Canada-based Canfor Pulp Products Inc., through its subsidiary Canfor Pulp Ltd., have signed an agreement to form a joint venture.

Known as the Licella Pulp Joint Venture, it aims to investigate opportunities to integrate Licella’s catalytic hydrothermal reactor (Cat-HTR) upgrading platform into Canfor Pulp’s kraft and mechanical pulp mills to convert biomass into biocrude oil for use as feedstock in existing petrochemical refineries for the production of biobased fuels and chemicals. According to the companies, the additional revenue stream would allow Canfor Pulp to further optimize its pulp production capacity. The joint venture also aims to offer the solution to third party mills in the future.

Information released by the companies notes the agreement follows successful preliminary trials that were conducted using feedstock from Canfor Pulp’s Prince George, British Columbia, pulp mill at Licella’s pilot plants in New South Wales, Australia. During the trials, the companies reported biomass feedstock was successfully converted into a stable biocrude oil.

The University of Sydney released a statement, noting it was a partner in the development of Licella’s technology. According to the statement, Licella is a start-up cofounded by Thomas Maschmeyer, a professor at the University of Sydney. "After nine years of very hard work by an amazing team of individuals at Licella and the University, it is extremely pleasing to see this Australian green technology going global; it will make a substantial impact,” Maschmeyer said.

"Biofuels and biochemicals represent the next frontier in the utilization of sustainable wood fibre to produce green energy and chemicals," said Don Kayne, CEO of CPPI.  "This initiative underscores Canfor Pulp's commitment to innovation and the importance of green energy and chemicals in our future product mix, and we look forward to developing this potentially transforming technology with Licella."

"The Cat-HTR process is a strong technical fit for the kraft process," said Brett Robinson, president of CPPI.  "The opportunity to directly produce advanced biofuels from our existing streams could transition Canfor Pulp from being strictly a pulp and paper manufacturer to a bio-energy producer as well.  The Licella technology has significant similarities to our existing processes which makes this partnership a natural fit."

"Licella's Cat-HTR technology may add significant value to Canfor Pulp's kraft process by creating new products from Canfor Pulp's waste streams," said Len Humphreys, CEO of Licella.  "What we are potentially building towards is a bio-refinery to utilize the entire tree, rather than part of the tree."