Toronto, Ontario – A Toronto company that engineers technology for the biofuel industry has been awarded $5.5 million in funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to assist in the design, construction and operation of an integrated cellulosic ethanol plant.

SunOpta BioProcess (SBI) and its partners will locate the facility in the Greater Toronto Area. The plant will include a facility to produce the sugar substitute xylitol, the result of a 2008 joint venture with Xylitol Canada with the goal of researching and co-developing a proprietary technology to produce food-grade xylitol using co-product streams from the production of cellulosic ethanol.

Such valuable co-products are expected to allow biofuel producers to increase their profitability and competitiveness. SBI and its partners have developed an integrated process that will produce both the sugar substitute and fuel-grade cellulosic ethanol, increasing the economic and environmental sustainability of cellulosic ethanol production.

Using wood chips as feedstock, the technology is projected to decrease process water consumption by up to 75 per cent compared to producing corn ethanol, while retaining all of the life-cycle carbon benefits inherent to cellulosic ethanol.

The total cost of the project is approximately $17.0 million, to be funded approximately 67 per cent by the partners, and 33 per cent by the SDTC grant. The facility is expected to become operational in December 2010, with process validation completed by December 2011. Production is expected to begin by December 2012.

Connect with