Startup of Origin Materials’ Sarnia plant planned for early 2023

Construction of Origin Materials’ manufacturing facility is Sarnia remains on track to be finished by the end of the year, company officials say.

The facility, which will use biomass such as sawdust to make building-block chemicals for the manufacturing of plastic and other products, is being built in an industrial park at the Arlanxeo site on Vidal Street.

The California-based company, which was founded in 2008, selected Sarnia for a “pioneer plant” to demonstrate its technology and produce biochemicals so their use can be qualified with customer’s production processes.

It has plans to build its first world-scale manufacturing facility in Louisiana.

In a recent earnings call, co-CEO John Bissell called progress on construction of the Sarnia facility “a considerable achievement despite the pandemic and supply-chain related headwinds.”

Commissioning of the plant is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2023, with startup beginning shortly after, he said.

The cost of the plant is expected to be between $125 million and $130 million, Bissell said.

“Since our last call, we have further progressed the assembly of the piping and electrical systems,” he said.

The facility includes modules fabricated offsite and then shipped in and assembled, minimizing work required to be completed at the site, Bissell said.

“We also completed the construction of our biomass building, which is where we will store sustainable wood residues entering the plant prior to processing and conveying to the reactor system, as well as substantially completed our HTC building, which is where we will separate HTC, a solid material, from the liquid aqueous phase of our core chemical process,” he said.

“HTC is a carbon-rich, highly structured and flexible raw material that can be converted into a wide range of applications, including carbon black and activated carbon for the automotive industry and material handling industry.”

Bissell said a control room building and power distribution building have also arrived at the site, along with several new tanks to hold product as well as solvent that will be used and recycled as part of the chemical process.

“We are thrilled to tell you that we are closer than ever to the mechanical completion and operation of Origin’s first commercial plant,” he said.

Origin Materials has been hiring for the Sarnia site which the company has said is expect to employ about 50 workers.

Bissell said the company received the 2022 Alternative Fuels and Chemicals Coalition Global Bio-based Economy Performance Award in early October.

Sponsored by the Industrial Biotechnology Journal, the award is given annually to recognize companies advancing science and contributing to the production and commercialization of industrial biotechnology products.

“Origin was selected for outstanding performance and achievements in the commercialization and scale-up of our patented technology platform,” Bissell said.

The company’s technology “turns the carbon found in sustainable wood residues into useful carbon-negative materials for a wide range of end products, including clothing, textiles, plastics, packaging, car parts, tires, carpeting, and toys,” he said.

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