RACELAND, LA - Following its recent acquisition of the U.S.-based biotechnology company Virdia, Stora Enso is investing €32 million in a demonstration and market development plant to be built in Raceland, LA. The plant will be used for industrial validation of the newly acquired extraction and separation technology developed by Virdia that enables cellulosic biomass, such as wood or agricultural waste, to be converted into highly refined sugars. The investment will help to facilitate the feasibility of the future use of the technology on industrial scale. The plant is scheduled to start production in early 2017.

The demonstration plant will be located in the vicinity of existing sugar cane plantations and will use bagasse waste as feedstock. Sugar cane bagasse is a sustainable, non-genetically-modified feedstock that does not compete with food. It will be used to produce high-purity five-carbon sugars, and in particular xylose.

“This investment marks the next step in our strategy for new markets and applications. It will enable validation of the technology developed by Virdia and its applicability to different types of biomass. Our goal is to develop and commercialize cost-effective renewable solutions to address well-identified market-driven needs and add value to our current cellulosic streams,” said Juan Carlos Bueno, EVP, Stora Enso Biomaterials.