Canada makes further investments in biofuels

By Hope Deutscher | May 04, 2009
Ethanol facilities and research projects recently received a boost from a number of federal and provincial funding sources in Canada, all aimed at accelerating renewable fuel production.

British Columbia has pledged more than $32.6 million to commercialize approximately $200 million in provincial renewable energy technology projects. The Innovative Clean Energy Fund has awarded more than $22.6 million to 19 projects and another $10 million in provincial funding will support eight projects to develop cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, and biofuel technologies that demonstrate low greenhouse gas emissions. The province has mandated that by 2010 gasoline and diesel used in British Columbia must contain a minimum of 5 percent renewable fuel.

One of the projects receiving funding was Lignol Innovations Ltd. in Burnaby, British Columbia, which was awarded $3.4 million to produce cellulosic ethanol and other products utilizing forestry residues indigenous to the province. The company will use the funds to support production runs at its industrial-scale biorefinery pilot plant using forest resources, which will lead to the creation of an engineering design package for a commercial biorefinery within the province. The company also has received $1.82 million from Sustainable
Development Technology Canada, a non-profit foundation that finances and supports clean technology developments. Other companies receiving funding included: Northwind
Ethanol in Prince George, British Columbia, which received $1.24 million to build a 500,000 gallon woody biomass-to-ethanol demonstration-scale facility; and Pure Power Global Ltd. in Quesnel, British Columbia, which received $880,000 to design and build a biorefinery in Quesnel that will convert 10 metric tons per day of woody biomass into cellulosic ethanol, lignins and xylose.

Canada's ecoENERGY for Biofuels program, which supports the production of renewable alternatives to gasoline and diesel, recently awarded Permolex Ltd.'s Red Deer, Alberta, ethanol production facility up to $23.2 million. The facility uses feed grade wheat in its initial stages of production and is designed to integrate three traditionally independent manufacturing processes - a flour mill, a gluten plant and an ethanol plant.

"I'm very pleased to express our thanks to the government of Canada for its partnership in making this state-of-the-art facility possible, and helping to make sure Permolex remains a part of this community for many years to come," said Doug MacKenzie, CEO and president of Permolex.

Canada's Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Agricultural Bioproducts Innovation Program is investing $12 million in the Canadian Triticale Biorefinery Initiative research network. Triticale, a hybrid of wheat and rye, contains high yielding potential with disease and environmental tolerance. It is mainly grown for animal feed or forage. CTBI is developing new uses for triticale as an ethanol production feedstock and biomaterials manufacturing source. The network involves 90 scientists from a number of entities working on 30 projects.

One of the projects involves Canada's largest ethanol producer, GreenField Ethanol Inc. and the National Research Council Biotechnology Research Institute. The two have partnered to improve pentose-fermenting yeast for the production of cellulosic ethanol from triticale and other forms of biomass. The research will occur at GreenField Ethanol's Center of Excellence pilot-scale cellulosic biorefinery and laboratory in Chatham, Ontario.

Canada Foundation for Innovation recently distributed $26.7 million to 116 projects at 29 Canadian institutions. Dr. David Levin and Dr. Nazim Cicek, University of Manitoba biosystems engineering professors, received $400,000 to study improving efficiencies of ethanol and hydrogen synthesis from agriculture and forestry waste. The funding will specifically support a laboratory that will develop a renewable cellulose-based fermentation system for biofuel production. According to the university, the lab will provide a unique opportunity to research alternative fuels in Canada. The CFI is an independent corporation created by the Canadian government to fund research infrastructure.