LignoTech-backed $110M venture to stabilize global supply of key water reducer ingredient

Rayonier Advanced Materials, Jacksonville, Fla., and Borregaard ASA, Sarpsborg, Norway, have effected a letter of intent to develop a 150,000-metric-ton capacity production line for lignin, a cellulose-derived raw material where global supply and demand imbalance invites price spikes of products including concrete admixtures. Their 45/55 joint venture will be based at the Fernandina Beach, Fla., cellulose fiber processing plant of minority partner Rayonier.26 Rayonier 400

Majority partner Borregaard cites world leadership in lignin-based products used for concrete plasticizers and superplasticizers, and operates New Jersey, Texas and Wisconsin sites under LignoTech USA Inc. The Fernandina Beach production line would increase overall LignoTech product capacity 30 percent, and represents what Borregaard CEO Per Sørlie calls “an excellent growth opportunity for our lignin business in a global market which for some time has been supply constrained.”

“This partnership between the world’s leader in cellulose specialties and the global leader in lignin-based products is significant for both companies,” adds Rayonier CEO Paul Boynton. “[It] advances our strategy of leveraging the value of our assets and co-products while further enhancing the competitive position of our Fernandina Beach plant.”

A natural component of wood and co-product of cellulose specialties manufacturing, lignin is currently used at the northern Florida operation for its energy value. The Borregaard-Rayonier venture would process the dispersing agent into higher value, environmentally friendly alternatives to petroleum-based chemicals used globally in construction and industrial applications. Officials anticipate an aggregate capital investment of $110 million over five years and two phases, the first expected to commence operation in 2017. Realization of the JV is subject to board approvals and conclusion of definitive agreements, plus final engineering, refinement of capital estimates, and obtaining required permits and related clearances.


Following June committee week in Anaheim, Calif., ASTM International Subcommittee C09-40 on Ready Mixed Concrete has issued a new C94, Standard Specification for Ready-Mixed Concrete. In contrast to the predecessor version, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association Engineering staff notes, ASTM C94-15 places the onus on the customer to communicate all requirements for concrete from a project specification; sets mix air content at levels for moderate and severe exposure; directs the purchaser, when ordering ready mixed, to either state the required air content or indicate finished concrete exposure type; requires purchaser to indicate density when ordering heavy weight mixes, and clarifies terms for ordering lightweight aggregate by stating equilibrium density; and, contains appendix revisions advising on strength overdesign concepts.

A proposal to permit use of electronic tickets was balloted, but remains subject to resolution. In near-term balloting and meetings, Subcommittee C09-40 will revisit such issues as eliminating time limits to delivery; a performance-based option and scheduling when ordering concrete; and, defining batch water with consideration for water held back for addition at the jobsite. Development of a new specification for returned-concrete reuse is progressing.