Government of Alberta awarding $10M to SBI Bioenergy for production of drop-in hydrocarbon fuels; funds from carbon levy
Using revenue from the price Alberta’s large emitters pay for releasing greenhouse gases, the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC) has earmarked a $10-million contribution for Alberta-based SBI BioEnergy to support a $20-million facility for the demonstration-scale production of drop-in, renewable diesel, jet and gasoline fuels from plant oils and waste fats.
With this investment, SBI will be able to produce 10 million liters (2.6 million gallons US) of renewable diesel fuel annually. This support works in concert with Alberta’s Renewable Fuels Standard which requires commercial fuel producers to blend renewable products into their fuels. SBI’s facility strengthens Alberta’s expanding industrial bio-product sector and gives Alberta farmers a new market for off-grade canola.
SBI BioEnergy also received support from other organizations in Alberta’s innovation chain. Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions committed $1.4 million in funding to SBI in 2013 to support technology development. Alberta Innovates Technology Futures provided about $460,000 in funding to SBI, as well as mentorship, lab and storage space.
In a few weeks, SBI expects to move into its newly built facility in the Edmonton Research Park, which will house the demonstration refinery capable of producing up to 10 million litres of renewable fuel per year. Commissioning the plant will take several months, but SBI hopes to start producing by year’s end. The company’s next goal will be to build a full-scale commercial biorefinery that will produce up to 240 million litres/year (63 million gallons US) by 2018.
SBI uses a proprietary hydrogen-free catalyst that deoxygenates and cracks various oxygenated feed stocks. The catalyst is heterogeneous, insoluble and non-consumable. It uses no water or chemicals and generates no waste. In addition, the process is continuous rather than producing fuel in batches, so further efficiencies are achieved.
SBI BioEnergy feedstocks include off-grade canola oil, waste cooking oil, animal fat from rendering plants and “tall oil,” a natural byproduct from wood pulp operations. SBI can also use other non-food oilseeds (such as camelina and carinata mustard) from crops grown on marginal land unsuited for food production.
SBI is in negotiations with major energy companies to supply them renewable diesel and renewable gasoline. Commercial refiners are currently importing alternative fuels for blending with conventional product to meet legislated fuel standards. SBI also plans eventually to market renewable jet fuel.
In addition to renewable fuels, the SBI technology produces a co-stream of high-purity glycerine, a value-added chemical that can be sold for the manufacture of food products, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.