Canadian government invests in biofuel initiatives

By Erin Voegele | February 15, 2013

The Canadian government has announced investments in two projects that will benefit the biofuel and biorefining industries. On Feb. 13, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced a $600,000 investment that will help the Alberta Sugar Growers study the use of sugar beets and energy beets as feedstock for the production biobutanol, biobased plastics and polyester fiber.

“This project will help pioneer cutting-edge technologies that will enable our beet growers to diversify their customer base, increase their acreage, and ultimately boost their bottom lines,” said Member of Parliament LaVar Payne.

 “This funding will allow us to bring leading-edge green technology and significant outside investment to Alberta,” said ASBG President Rob Boras. “Once this project is completed we expect to see that energy beets are a viable feedstock for the technology being tested, that they are commercially viable from a technical and an economic standpoint, and that moving to commercial production is achievable in Alberta.”

In February, Western Economic Diversification Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada also announced a combined investment of up to $911,000 to help the POS Pilot Plant purchase and install short-path distillation (SPD) equipment. The pilot plant is operated by POS Bio-Sciences, a confidential contract research, toll processing and analytical services organization.

According to information published by the Canada News Centre, the SDP equipment separates fractions from feedstocks through a process of repeated evaporation and condensation. The fractions can be used in the production of biofuels, nutraceuticals, agri-food and functional foods.

“Commercial scale short path distillation equipment in POS would be the first of its kind in Canada,” said Rick Green, vice president of technology at POS Bio-Sciences. “Small and medium sized businesses in Western Canada will benefit by finally being able to export value added extracts from feedstock grown in Western Canada. For example, several companies in Western Canada have products ready for export but need commercial scale SPD equipment to realize their potential. This project, generously supported by Western Economic Diversification and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will help Canadians capture those opportunities.”

Both investments are supported by the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program, a five-year, $163 million initiative designed to help the Canadian agriculture industry adapt and remain competitive.