Canada backs demonstration-scale algal biorefinery project in the oil sands; Algal Carbon Conversion
The Government of Canada is supporting a three-year project that will result in the construction of a $19-million, demonstration-scale facility in Alberta that will use algae to recycle industrial carbon dioxide emissions from an oil sands facility into commercial products such as biofuels. The Algal Carbon Conversion (ACC) Pilot Project is a partnership among the National Research Council of Canada (NRC); Canadian Natural Resources Limited, one of the largest independent crude oil and natural gas producers in Canada; and Pond Biofuels.
The demonstration-scale algal biorefinery will be established at Canadian Natural’s Primrose South oil sands site, near Bonnyville, Alberta. The demonstration facility will be integrated into the Canadian Natural’s operations with direct access to industrial flue gas emissions, wastewater and waste heat.
The biorefinery will test and evaluate the scalability and cost effectiveness of current algal cultivation technologies for potential commercial deployment. The algal biomass will then undergo further processing into products, such as biofuels, livestock feed and fertilizer.
Four additional R&D streams have been designed to support the pilot project and future commercial deployment of the technology. Each stream is designed to address an economic or a technical challenge related to commercial deployment of the technology.
Algae: Identification of most appropriate algae strains for industrial deployment
Photobioreactors & Light: Greater productivity and reduced costs for photobioreactors
Harvesting and Dewatering: Reduced energy costs for processing algal biomass
Additional Value Streams: High-value, sustainable products from algal biomass
The ultimate goal of the project is to test the viability and feasibility of this technology on a large scale. If proven successful, it can then be used as a model for recycling industrial emissions in the oil sands as well as in other industries across Canada and globally.
|Pond Biofuels’ validation facility at St Marys Cement kiln in Ontario. Click to enlarge.|
Pond Biofuels, founded in 2007, has designed, constructed, and is operating a large scale process validation facility, using CO2 from the raw flue gas from Votorantim St. Marys Cement’s kiln in Ontario to grow algae.
The company selected its initial algae strains based on a combination of robust growth rates and reliability for use in southern Ontario environmental conditions. It says that its system can accommodate any advances in algae technology, new strains, genetically modified organisms, changes to salt-water media, or any other improvements.
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. 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.—Steven Martin, CEO of Pond Biofuels
On 7 May, the Government of Canada announced a 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. The Algal Carbon Conversion project is an example of the kind of research and technology development that NRC will pursue.