Biofuel projects named as semi-finalists in Ontario competition

By Erin Voegele | December 26, 2017

The Ontario Centres of Excellence have announced 20 semi-finalists for Ontario’s Solutions 2030 Challenge, which calls on innovators to propose solutions to help the province’s industry reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution. Several of the finalists have biofuel-related technologies.

The challenge is part of the broader TargetGHG program, which is delivered by OCE on behalf of the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science, and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

Ontario’s Solutions 2030 Challenge is a three-phase competition that takes place over three years. It is designed to identify and accelerate the development of technologies that have a high potential to help Ontario industry meet 2030 emissions reduction targets. The 20 teams were selected from more than 160 applicants from around the world. Each semi-finalist has accepted an invitation to pitch to an external panel. The top eight teams from Phase 1 will be invited to participate in Phase 2 and be awarded up to $250,000. Up to $3 million will be awarded to the winning team to help bring their technology to market.

The semi-finalists include:

Shepherdess Biotech (Canada): The Shepherdess Biotech team is developing a production pathway for biofuel from industrial waste. They have partnered with Ontario start-up Pond Technologies to convert algae production from their photobioreactors into usable fuels, including butanol. The team and technology are based at Ryerson University.

CERT (Canada): Ted Sargent, a professor at the University of Toronto, leads a team of researchers in the development of transformative technologies for energy and GHG management. Their project proposes to convert CO2 to ethanol using an electrocatalytic process.

Opus 12 (U.S.): Opus 12 is a start-up founded by a team of young entrepreneurs from Stanford University in California.  They have developed a CO2 electrolysis technology that converts CO2 into carbon-based products, such as syngas, ethylene, methane, or ethanol depending on the catalyst being used.  The proposed project would be the development of a commercial prototype system. The company has validated the technology and has attracted the attention of major energy companies. The founding team was recently featured in Rolling Stone's list of 25 People Shaping the Future.   

Catalytic Innovations (U.S.): Catalytic Innovations was founded by scientists from Yale University.  The company, now based in Boston, has developed a non-biological, electrically-driven reactor for the production of ethanol from CO2.  The proposed project would allow the team to scale up their technology and develop a pilot in Ontario. 

A full list of the semi-finalists is available on the Ontario Centres of Excellence website