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Stephen Thompson's picture
Tue, 04/03/2018 - 16:04 -- Stephen Thompson

Sarnia-Lambton was recently featured in Business Review Magazine. The article focuses on history and the strides Sarnia-Lambton has made in the last decade, including diversifying its big oil industrial base to include biobased industry. The 7-page article is worth reading and sharing.

Here is an excerpt from the article that highlights the biohybrid economy in Sarnia-Lambton:

Once known mainly for its petrochemical industry, Sarnia is now deep in the process of diversifying its big oil industrial base to include big bio. For the hybrid chemical system, future growth will come from biobased industry. But the region is also committed to maintaining the petroleum industry as they work hard to decrease their Greenhouse Gas emissions and look at ways to partner with the biobased industry.

There are several reasons why this is happening. “We have several municipally-owned assets including a deep water port, a regional airport and two business parks,” Shaw offers. “One business park is fully serviced by the City, and is there to provide shovel-ready type development in attracting new businesses.” The second business park is 214 acres and contains the 80-acre, Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park, which was established in 2003 as a joint initiative with the County of Lambton, the City of Sarnia and the University of Western Ontario (now Western University). It is Canada’s largest clean-tech incubator for the commercialization of large-scale industrial technologies, from lab to market. The Western Research Parks were the 2016 recipient of the Outstanding Research Park Award from the Association of University Research Parks.

The Park is also the location of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC), a nationally focused, not-for-profit organization that acts as a hub for commercialization of sustainable chemistry and bio-based innovation. BIC, along with the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership (SLEP) has been a catalyst in developing the Biohybrid Chemistry Cluster in Sarnia-Lambton, which is now becoming globally recognized as the leading Cluster in biobased chemicals and clean technology.

One new biobased company that is establishing in Sarnia is Origin Materials, a California-based bio chemical company that began this winter with a $6-million pilot plant at the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park. Now, it is planning to open a $31.4 million commercial-scale demonstration plant on land currently owned by ARLANXEO Canada, a synthetic rubber company (and the prior site of the 1942 Polymer Corporation), located in the Bio-Industrial Park Sarnia.

The Origin site is just west of the two-year-old, $141 million, BioAmber plant that manufactures 66,000,000 pounds of succinic acid per year, a chemical used to make plastics, lubricants, paint, cosmetics, food additives, and other products. “Up until BioAmber’s new technology to produce it from biobased materials, succinic acid has traditionally been petroleum-based, produced by the petro chemical industry,” Misek-Evans explains. The Montreal-based BioAmber opened a plant in 2015 at the Arlanxeo site in Sarnia where approximately 60 employees work making the building-block chemical succinic acid from corn syrup.

Other companies that have set up shop in Sarnia include Comet Biorefining, which is designing a sugar mill for 80,000 tonnes of corn stover supplied from Lambton County farmers through the Cellulosic Sugar Producers Cooperative. The mill will be built at the Bluewater Energy Park and be operational by 2019/20.

Along with the few bio economy companies mentioned, there are a number of others at the Research Park and looking at Sarnia-Lambton as a primary site location for their future. Within Lambton County, there is BIOX, a biodiesel facility, and Forge Hydrocarbons, a new start up locating in the County, also focused on biodiesel.

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