Canadian cellulosic ethanol project attracts government funding

By Erin Voegele | October 01, 2013

The Canadian government has announced it will invest $734,500 in a cellulosic ethanol project under development by Vanerco, a joint venture of Enerkem and GreenField. The funding will be awarded through Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s Next Gen Biofuels Fund. According to information released by Natural Resources Canada, SDTC’s funding could reach $39.8 million, based on subsequent project milestones and required approvals. Construction is expected to begin next year.

"Our government is investing in advanced clean energy technologies that create well-paying jobs and generate economic opportunities," said Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver. "By supporting innovative projects like Vanerco's, we are helping Canadian companies develop an idea into a marketable reality."

The proposed 38 MMly (10 MMgy) cellulosic facility will be located at the site of GreenField’s existing 120 MMly corn-ethanol plant in Varennes, Quebec. The cellulosic facility will feature Enerkem’s proprietary waste-to-biofuels technology, which is currently being demonstrated in Wesbury, Quebec. Natural Resources Canada estimates the gasification capacity of the commercial plant will be scaled up by a factor of seven from the demonstration facility.

Feedstock for the cellulosic plant will be sourced from a variety of sources, including institutional, commercial and industrial sectors, along with construction and demolition debris. The plant is expected to take in 100,000 metric tons of feedstock per year.

"Clean technologies which offer a true global alternative to fossil fuels emerge when industry pioneers, governments, venture capitalists, and academics work together to ensure a successful transition to the commercial stage," said Vincent Chornet, chairman of Vanerco. "SDTC played a pivotal role by becoming the catalyst that helped all these players join forces. We are glad to see them on board with us in this commercial project."