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martes, 4 de abril de 2017

Australian Paper teams up with CSIRO, Federation University and VTT to build a bioproducts plant in the Latrobe Valley

According to local media (see news), Australian Paper, CSIRO, Federation University and VTT are planning to create a bioproducts manufacturing hub in the Latrobe Valley (Gippsland, region in the state of Victoria, Australia) that could generate several thousand jobs.

The partnership intend to use an existing 50 MW biomass plant of Australian Paper at the Maryvale mill to build the core of a bioproducts manufacturing facility. The plant would use lignin to generate a range of high-tech, renewable products. Currently, the lignin is burned in the biomass plant to produce energy. About $2.7 million is required for a feasibility study to prove the concept. If successful, this would be followed by a $20 million pilot plant in 2020 and a $100 million full-scale biorefinery in 2022.
NOTE: There is no mention of whether the dollars are Australian or American.

Another critical part of the plan is the immediate establishment of a research centre, BioCore. This is expected to cost $38 million, $15 million for the facility and $23 million for staff over five years.

Figure 1. Maryvale mill of Australian Paper (extracted from the web page of Australian Office, a division of Australian Paper). Australian Paper plans to use its existing 50 MW biomass plant at this mill to form the core of the bioproducts facility.

The project was set out at a seminar at Federation University in Churchill. These are some interesting statements of the speakers:
- Professor Leigh Sullivan, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Federation University, said that this institution would provide engineering and systems and other expertise to the project.
- Stephen Parkinson, Technical Business Development Manager at Australian Paper, said: "We would divert that fuel source, lignin, to a whole new range of products: biofuel, aviation fuel, biocarbon fibre or bioplastics."
- Dr. John Kettle, VP Sales and Business Development at VTT, said: "We believe there are opportunities in Australia, that's why we are here. Those with ample raw materials, existing infrastructure and a capable workforce are at a distinct advantage. The Latrobe Valley is, therefore, in a unique and enviable position.”

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