Biorefinery and Energy

The Biorefinery and Energy program develops novel bio-based chemicals and bio-energy pathways from wood, with a focus on integration with existing forest industry infrastructures.

The primary objective of the Biorefinery and Energy program is to improve the economic performance of the existing forest industry by identifying pathways to new biochemicals and energy, with the aim of replacing petroleum-derived products.

In the longer term, these initial improvements to existing assets could become increasingly important in the development of new product lines on a scale similar to that of the existing industry. As the demand for a number of traditional forest-based products declines, these new assets could play an important role in helping to ensure the future of the sector and the thousands of people who depend on it for their livelihood.

Along with their sustainable nature, the economics of these new products are increasingly attractive in an era of high oil prices. Specific objectives of the Biorefinery and Energy program include:

  • Working with the chemicals and plastics industries to develop new products from lignin and wood-based sugars, including the processes for extracting and converting these sugars and lignin to best meet customer needs;
  • Working with forest sector partners to support the implementation of these processes in existing mills through research and development, engineering studies on the impact of new processes on existing mill operations, setting out detailed estimates of capital and operating costs, and evaluating market potential and pricing.

The Biorefinery and Energy program has the potential to shape the future of both the Canadian and global forest fibre sector. Climate change and shifting economic demand have the potential to further strengthen its importance in the coming years.