Communication for Sustainable Development

Canada's SDTC funds four biodiesel, biorefining projects

The Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s SD Tech Fund invested $53 million in 17 new clean technology projects across Canada in the areas of agriculture, transportation, mining and energy. Of those 17, four directly went to biodiesel and biorefining-related projects.

Sarnia, Ontario-based biodiesel fuel developer Azule Fuels Inc. received $1.6 million from the SDTC to develop a second-gen biorefinery to demonstrate commercial feasibility and acceptance of biodiesel production using feedstocks that aren’t competitive with consumer food chains.
Azule Fuels intends to employ a patented catalytic technology in a continuous flow, fixed-bed reactor using a solid acid catalyst for the production of biodiesel and pure glycerin, including capability for producing biobased lubricants, green solvents and fuel oxygenates. Azule Fuels will be working with Alliance Sustainable Chemistry and Lanxess AG on the project. A timeline as to when this project would begin wasn’t confirmed.

Biobased succinic acid developer BioAmber Inc., in collaboration with Mitsui & Co., will use SDTC-granted funds to build a large demonstration plant in Sarnia that will merge previously validated upstream fermentation technologies from its 3,000-metric-ton demonstration facility currently in operation in Pomacle, France, with promising downstream purification technology currently under development in the U.S. BioAmber has developed a novel biobased technology that ferments glucose into succinic acid, making it significantly less expensive compared to conventional petroleum-based routes.

Vancouver, B.C.-based Linnaceus Plant Sciences Inc. and its consortium members propose to develop and demonstrate an integrated process to produce value-added, renewable, biodegradable industrial oils and feedstock from camelina and safflower for use in lubricant and polymer feedstock production. The goal of the project is to give farmers a new valuable crop that’s a cost-effective biobased source of feedstock for lubricants and polymers used for foams and coatings. Camelina and safflower have short growing seasons (less than 100 days) and can be grown in a crop rotation to replace summer fallow. The development of this technology, according to Linnaceus Plant Sciences, is expected to bring millions of acres of drought-prone or marginal agricultural lands into production while reducing soil and nitrogen loss and greenhouse gas emissions.

Finally, Killam, Alberta-based Nova Green Inc. and its consortium members have identified Jerusalem artichoke (Jart) stalks as an alternative source for producing both xylitol, a natural sweetner, and inulin, a prebiotic and source of dietary fiber. Jart, which is drought and pest resistant and can be grown and harvested using existing methods, could produce up to 10 times more biomass per hectare than conventional seed crops and could fit into normal crop rotation cycles, according to the company. The consortium has developed an integrated process that can extract the inulin and xylitol from Jart while processing the residual biomass into a biochar for use as a soil enhancer and to sequester carbon. The Nova Green project intends to demonstrate the cultivation of Jart and the processing of Jart into xylitol, inulin and biochar at a pilot-scale facility somewhere in Eastern Alberta.

To date, the SDTC’s SD Tech Fund has supported more than 220 projects and allocated $548 million, generating more than $1.3 billion in leveraged funds.

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