The plant will be commissioned in 2013, with an initial capacity of 17,000 MT (Metric Tons). The building work for the plant began in June 2011.
Eventually, BioAmber plans to increase production of bio-succinic acid to 35,000 MT and introduce 1,4-Butandiol (BDO) to the site, producing 23,000 MT at the plant’s peak.
The company aims to use technology exclusively licenced from DuPont to convert succinic acid to BDO, which has a $4 billion existing market.
“Sarnia has tremendous potential as a sustainable chemistry cluster. The unique combination of chemical infrastructure, skilled labor, educational facilities, competitive transportation costs and proximity to some of Canada’s richest agricultural land makes Sarnia an excellent choice,” said Mike Hartmann, executive VP of BioAmber.
“These provincial and federal programs have put Ontario and Canada at the forefront of sustainable development and in strong position to compete globally for foreign investment by renewable chemical and material companies. These programs were instrumental in BioAmber’s decision to invest in Ontario,” he added.
Succinic acid is a renewable, non-toxic specialty chemical that can be further modified to make a wide range of products, including for cosmetics, according to BioAmber.
Found in plant and animal tissues, it is used as an intermediate for various industrial chemicals such as perfumes, cosmetics and plasticizers.
BioAmber claims to have developed a proprietary fermentation process to produce succinic acid using raw materials from agriculture and forestry, as an alternative to petroleum (oil and gas) feedstocks.
The cost of the succinic acid is lower than butane derived succinic acid, and the purity is higher. BioAmber’s renewable process also consumes significant quantities of CO2 and can therefore be an important contributor in the growing effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.