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Bio-based xylitol lowers production costs

By Mary Page Bailey |

While demand for the artificial sweetener xylitol grows, expensive raw materials and low yields have kept production prices high. Now, a new process from S2G BioChem (Vancouver, B.C., Canada; www.s2gbiochem.com) aims to produce xylitol in a more cost-effective way, utilizing byproducts from pulp-and-paper plants and biorefineries as feedstock. “These are growing sources of xylose-rich sugars that we can take advantage of,” says Mark Kirby, president and chief executive officer of S2G Biochem. He explains that while these feedstocks are not typically suitable for traditional xylitol manufacturing processes, the high efficiency of S2G’s method makes their use feasible. According to Kirby, S2G’s technology can achieve xylitol yields double that of traditional processes. Another factor contributing to the economics of the process is the production of saleable co-products, including ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. “Whatever we don’t turn into xylitol, we turn into high-value biochemicals,” explains Kirby. In S2G’s process, fractionated biomass is cleaned and conditioned and then sent to a trickle-bed catalytic hydrotreating process employing a non-rare-earth catalyst in a packed bed. In the presence of hydrogen, the…
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