Partnering with DalinYebo to develop a business case for conversion and extraction of furfural from pulping liquors.
Furfural is used as a solvent for refining lubricating oils, as a fungicide and weed killer and in the production of tetrahydrofuran, an important industrial solvent. It was one of the first bio-renewable chemicals produced from biomass and has an established and growing market, where it competes with oil-based chemicals. It can be produced from the hemicellulose fraction of a number of biomass sources or agricultural residues such as bagasse and corncobs.
The xylose fraction in the pulping liquors from various mills has been identified as a possible source of furfural. The conversion and extraction of furfural from pulping liquors would be an additional source of income and could also improve the energy efficiency and environmental footprint of our pulp mills.
Sappi has partnered with Dalin Yebo to develop a business case for conversion and extraction of furfural from PHK liquor
at Ngodwana Mill and acid sulphite liquor at Saiccor Mill .
The project will include the design and construction of a pilot plant to remove and convert xylose into furfural.
The first phase of the project, which launched in July 2017, will include the collection of historical data, plant information and sampling campaigns to determine the best location in the process at Saiccor Mill to produce furfural. From here, a portable pilot plant will be constructed to determine the feasibility of producing furfural on a small scale and a full-scale demonstration plant could be built, depending on the results.
 Reference: 2017 Sappi Group Sustainability Report (p. 23) and 2017 Annual Integrated Report (p. 49)