A world-class, cutting-edge biotechnology plant that turns sugar beet juice into biodegradable industrial products at the expense of the petroleum industry has officially opened in Taber.
Flexible Solutions chief executive officer Dan O’Brien said the former warehouse and food-processing building has become the industry leader for the made-in-Canada technology to make aspartic acid from thin sugar beet juice processed at the nearby Lantic Inc. sugar factory.
O’Brien, on a quick tour of the plant that included sections that were top secret, said Flexible Solutions relies heavily on the southern Alberta sugar beet industry and Lantic Sugar for the vital raw product for its aspartic acid which comes through the processing line in the form of acid granules. The granules are collected in 1,000-kilogram bags for shipment to the firm’s Chicago plant to be made into polyaspartic acid which is finding a home is several key industries around the world.
The secret to the sugar-based aspartic acid is its quick breakdown into environmentally friendly simple compounds. The aspartic acid made from petroleum could take hundreds of years to degrade.
O’Brien helped his Victoriabased father, a former University of British Columbia professor, develop the biochemistry to be able to make aspartic acid from sugar.
“We are years ahead of the competition,” he told about 50 at the opening ceremony.
The end product will be welcomed in the petroleum industry to clean pipes used to move petroleum products, replace up to 10 per cent of the non-biodegradable components in green detergents, take the place of petroleum products in the water treatment industry and as an additive to fertilizers to boost crop yields for farmers.
Flexible Solutions will use 5,000 tonnes of granule sugar equivalent in the form of 25,000 tonnes of thin sugar beet juice a year until it expands to meet growing global demand.