Gisborne plan: Wood for paint and packaging
Wednesday 14 Oct 2020Gisborne group planning $160m biorefinery: A venture pushing to develop a $160 million biorefinery near Gisborne believes the project can help fill a long-standing gap in the country’s forestry research sector.
Futurity Bio-Ventures has licensed two international technologies for the plant it aims to have operating in 2025. It would convert forestry waste and processing residues into wood-based chemicals for everything from paints to packaging and concrete.
The company has raised $1.5 million to date to fund research into five products for a range of potential end- users it has been working with, including Resene and Foodstuffs. It is aiming to raise a further $3 million by early 2021 to complete work validating the costs, performance, ease of use and value benefits for customers from the products.
The timing to complete the work may vary across different products, but based on previous work, chief executive Jacob Kohn said 19 months is an achievable target for the trialling, preparation of materials and market analysis involved.
Funders of Futurity’s work to date include Callaghan Innovation, the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment and Trust Tairawhiti, which has been working to develop a wood processing cluster south of Gisborne. LanzaTech founder Sean Simpson joined the firm’s advisory board in August.
Kohn said interest among funders has been good and he is confident the next funding round will be successful. He expects a pre-construction spend of about $15 million, within the total $160 million estimated for the project.
Kohn said New Zealand’s rotation forestry industry is strong, as is its research sector. But to date the latter hadn’t been able to develop new products at scale to capture the unique properties of radiata pine.
Futurity’s focus is on developing high-value materials and advanced renewable chemicals from radiata’s cellulose, hemicellulose and lignan. They can either replace petroleum-based chemicals in existing products, or feed into entirely new products.
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