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Government backs bio-based solvent project

Thursday, 01 March 2018
By Print 21 Online Article
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Norske Skog’s Boyer Mill in Tasmania.

The Federal Government is investing $1.5 million in Norske Skog’s plan to develop a world-first ‘green’ alternative to fossil-fuel-based solvents at its Boyer Mill in Tasmania.

‘Another very important step’: Rod Bender, Norske Skog.

The Norwegian-owned newsprint maker and Melbourne-based chemical technology R&D company Circa Group – headed by well-known industry identity Tony Duncan – are building a commercial demonstration plant at Boyer for Cyrene, a non-toxic and cleaner alternative to conventional solvents. Certified plantation softwood will be used to produce the bio-solvent.

“Australia has the opportunity to establish a completely new biochemical industry based on renewable forestry resources and today’s announcement will help maintain the Cyrene project’s first mover status,” says Rod Bender, Norske Skog’s vice president of renewables and business development.

“Cyrene is an environmentally friendly, sustainably produced solvent that has the potential to replace fossil fuel based solvents that are currently used in the pharmaceutical and agrichemical industries around the world. We are very proud of the work being done at the Boyer Mill in conjunction with our joint venture partner, Circa Group, to commercialise the production of Cyrene. Today’s announcement is another very important step.”

‘Greatly appreciated’: Tony Duncan, CEO Circa Group.

The Federal Government’s funding will support a feasibility study for the project’s next stage scale-up, which is being designed to produce 5,000 tonnes of biomass-derived chemical levoglucosenone and Cyrene from waste sawdust. The Tasmanian Government has also pledged $1.5 million towards the project.

“Everyone associated with the project is rightly proud of the pioneering work being done at Boyer to build and commission FC5 – our prototype commercial plant,” says Circa Group CEO Tony Duncan. “The support offered by the Federal Government and the support already being provided by the Tasmanian Government is greatly appreciated.”

In 2017, Cyrene was recognised as the ‘Bio-based Chemical Innovation of the Year’ at the Bio Based World Innovation Awards in Amsterdam, and was recognised on the UK’s top 10 biochemical opportunities listing. 

“These global awards highlight the potential for Cyrene to replace the toxic solvents currently in use with a long-awaited environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative,” says Bender. “This has been reinforced with more than 100 trial orders received from across Europe, North America, China and Australia – many from high tech companies and groups working in specialty composites, advanced polymers and pharma.”

One Response to “Government backs bio-based solvent project”

  1. August 12, 2018 at 10:27 am,


    That sounds great!!!! Better than pulp mills and more pollution in the water and air.
    We can change the path we’re on for the health of our planet and all living things as well as benefit economically. We are a smart humanity and if we refuse the global greed for gla always health, abundance and peace for all we will create a world we can live in sustainably for ALL.

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