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Pilot plant to demo new bioproduct process


Edmonton, AB – University of Alberta is establishing a pilot plant to demonstrate and refine a new process known as lipid to hydrocarbon (LTH) technology. The process converts agricultural waste materials into high-value commercial products. On Friday, Western Economic Diversification Canada announced it was providing $970,000 in funding to support the establishment of the plant.

The technology is considered to be highly marketable because of its capacity to convert agricultural materials currently treated as waste, such as vegetable oils and animal fats, as well as oils derived from algae, into high-value by-products such as fuels, chemicals and solvents. These by-products can then be used to enhance a variety of commercial applications, ranging from jet fuel, gasoline and diesel fuel to specialty solvents for canola oil extraction facilities and specialized chemicals used in oil and gas drilling operations.

“Research in the area of bio-products is a strength and a priority at the University of Alberta,” says Dr Lorne Babiuk, the university’s vice-president (research). “To see the innovative research that led to the discovery of lipid to hydrocarbon technology now move further along the path towards full commercialization backed by the strong support of the federal government is exciting for the University of Alberta. Given the important environmental and economic implications of the technology, this is an excellent example of how partnerships between sectors can improve life for all Canadians.”

The project is being led by the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, which has been working to create and design the technology for the past nine years. The pilot plant will be located at the University of Alberta’s Agri-Food Discovery Place.

An Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) grant is providing additional support for the initiative.