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lunes, 20 de noviembre de 2017

Leaf signs land purchase option for a biorefinery project in Malaysia



The Australian Leaf Resources recently announced (see press release, 16/11/2017) that a Term Sheet for an option to purchase a land area of 5.7 ha located in Segamat (Johor, Malaysia) has been signed by Leaf Malaysia (100% owned subsidiary of Leaf Resources) and Leaf Development LLC (joint venture of Leaf Resources and Claeris). It is a 2-year option that allows Leaf Malaysia time to develop the FEL3 engineering package, arrange permitting and negotiate and sign the EPC contract of a biorefinery project based on its Glycell technology.

Background

In October 2016, Leaf Resources signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM, statutory body under the Prime Minister’s department) and a Letter of Facilitation and Collaboration with Malaysian Bioeconomy Development Corporation (see press release, 25/10/2016). According to a report issued in June this year by Lodge Partners, the Malaysian federal and state governments had identified two viable locations for a bio-hub development in the state of Sarawak. Leaf’s process would be the vital link to convert biomass to industrial sugars and ensure the creation of the renewable chemical bio-hub. If the land purchase option which has just been made public is exercised, the first Glycell biorefinery will not be located in the state of Sarawak but in the state of Johor.

The aforementioned agreements envisaged the construction of an initial 100,000 bone dry tons (bdt) facility, with an early 300,000 bdt expansion. The press release confirms a processing capacity for the new plant of 100,000 bdt of Empty Fruit Bunch (EFB) waste from the palm oil industry.

Site characteristics

The site is ideally suited for Leaf’s proposed project:
- Excellent biomass availability. Within an approximate 120 km radius, there are 52 palm mills that can provide 10,000 metric tons per day of EFB (Leaf’s first commercial requirement is 600 metric tons per day).
- Industrial scale EFB handling.
- Key infrastructure and utilities are established and accessible.
- Excellent logistics.
- Income tax exemption (potential for “Less Developed Area” incentives).

The Glycell process and the technology partners

Leaf Resource’s proprietary Glycell process breaks down waste plant biomass utilizing glycerol to produce C5 and C6 cellulosic sugars with lignin and refined glycerol as by-products. The process inputs cheap waste glycerol from biodiesel industry and recovers it in a purified form at a higher market value.

Figure 1. Glycell process scheme showing technology partner contribution (extracted from “Malaysia to be front runner for first commercial plant”, a report issued by Lodge Partners in 23/06/2017)

In July 2016, Leaf announced the creation of a joint venture (Leaf Development LLC) with Claeris LLC. This company has been instrumental in bringing the current Malaysian opportunity from the conceptual stage to the point of high-level government negotiation and agreement.

Andritz has designed components for the Glycell pretreatment process. Leaf Resources and Andritz have undertaken evaluation of the technology on a number of specific biomass products including: Eucalyptus Globulus, EFB, sugar cane bagasse, wheat straw and various other hardwoods. Validation of the Glycell process has been made by Andritz at a 10 tons per day (5 bdt) test facility.

In December 2016, Leaf announced a collaboration with Novozymes to further enhance the performance of the Glycell process. Novazymes has independently validated the Glycell process results that were evaluated by Andritz.

Amalgamated Research LLC (ARi) has tested filtrate from the Glycell process and confirmed that greater than 95% of the glycerol in the filtrate is recoverable by SMB chromatography at 95% purity.

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