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Canada turns up the heat on algae
May 12, 2013
he Canadian government has taken perhaps its most aggressive action in the advancement of algal biofuels by bringing together the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) with industry partners to jointly invest $19 million in a project that they feel has the potential to revolutionize how industrial carbon emissions are managed, as well as lessen the carbon footprint of the Canadian oil sands.
“As a rapidly growing Canadian company, Pond Biofuels is very excited to partner with the National Research Council of Canada and Canadian Natural on this project in the Canadian oil sands,” said Steven Martin, Chief Executive Officer of Pond Biofuels. “This partnership, along with our current work with the cement and steel industrial sectors to implement algae technology is an enormous step forward and establishes Canada as the world leader in the field of carbon capture and recycling.”
The three-year Algal Carbon Conversion Pilot Project is planned to result in the construction of a unique, $19 million facility in Alberta to recycle industrial carbon dioxide emissions into valuable algal-based products. The federal government will contribute $9.5-million to the project, while Pond will put up $3.2-million and Canadian Natural Resources, Ltd. (CNRL) will add $6.3-million.
The NRC provides Canadian industry with access to the strategic research and development, technical services and specialized scientific infrastructure it needs to excel on the global stage. “The Government of Canada is investing in research that creates jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity, advancing knowledge into social and economic benefits for Canadians and the world,” said the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology).
In the coming months, a demonstration-scale algal biorefinery will be established at Canadian Natural’s Primrose South site, near Bonnyville, Alberta. This facility will recycle industrial emissions by using carbon dioxide, along with using wastewater and waste heat to grow algal biomass, which will undergo further processing into products, such as biofuels, livestock feed and soil improvement.
The ultimate goal of the project is to test the viability and feasibility of such a facility. If proven successful, it can then be used as a model for recycling industrial emissions across industries in Canada and the world.
Steve Laut, President of Canadian Natural – one of the largest independent crude oil and natural gas producers in Canada – said, “We are continuously reviewing technologies that offer improved environmental performance in our operations. If (this) process proves feasible on a large scale, it’ll be shared among 13 oil sands players, which will accelerate the pace of environmental performance in the oil sands.”
On May 7th, Minister of State Goodyear, along with NRC President John R. McDougall, announced the refocused NRC and outlined how its new structure will be more beneficial to business. The National Research Council will work with industry to bridge technology gaps, helping build a more innovative Canadian economy.