Instead of making ethanol from sugar, SunOpta of Canada is working on making a sugar substitute from ethanol.
SunOpta subsidiary SunOpta BioProcess Inc. (SBI) has been awarded $5.5 million (Canadian) in funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada to develop an integrated cellulosic ethanol plant and co-located xylitol production facility in the Greater Toronto area.
The fabrication of valuable co-products is expected to allow biofuel producers to increase their profitability and competitiveness. SBI and its partners have developed an integrated process that will produce both food grade xylitol — a healthy sugar substitute — and fuel grade cellulosic ethanol, therefore increasing the economic and environmental sustainability of cellulosic ethanol production. Using wood chips as feedstock, the technology is projected to decrease process water consumption by up to 75% compared to producing corn ethanol while retaining all of the life-cycle carbon benefits inherent to cellulosic ethanol.