Sappi invests in sugar separations and clean-up technology to strengthen its renewable bio-chemicals offering

Sappi Limited is pleased to announce that it will bolster its biorefining expertise through the acquisition of the Xylex® and Versalac® technologies owned by Plaxica Limited. The transaction will result in Sappi acquiring the sugar clean up technologies which includes the patents, knowhow, equipment and key technical staff of Plaxica. The size of the transaction does not require regulatory disclosure.

Since 2013, Sappi has advanced its efforts to expand its biorefining expertise. Part of the strategy is to extract and clean-up C5 hemicellulose sugars from our Pre-Hydrolysis Kraft (PHK) liquors for further value add to higher value products.  Commenting on the transaction, Louis Kruyshaar, Executive Vice President of Sappi Biotech said “Plaxica’s Xylex® solution is rated as one of the most advanced to offer optimum efficiency and economics for separation and clean-up of C5 sugars from pulp mill hydrolysates. ”

The technology acquisition follows Sappi’s successful commissioning of a demonstration extraction unit at its Ngodwana Mill in South Africa during April 2017 to extract a sugar rich prehydrolysate stream from the PHK pulping process. The next step towards the production of clean sugars involves the clean-up of the PHK liquor or hydrolysate to separate the xylose-rich sugars from the lignin.

Sappi has a high degree of confidence that its hydrolysate extraction capabilities together with the proprietary low cost Xylex® technology will enable Sappi to realise its stated objective to participate in the downstream value chains which include Furfural, Glycols and Xylitol.

Phil Goodier, CEO of Plaxica Limited commented as follows: “This acquisition is an excellent outcome for Plaxica and our technology team.  We have been working with Sappi for four years and have already built strong relationships with our new colleagues.  All of us look forward to contributing to the successful commercialisation of Xylex® as part of Sappi.”

Plaxica Limited is a UK technology licensing company founded in 2008 as a spin-out from Imperial College, London. It is situated in the Wilton Technology Centre in the UK.

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