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Search for next generation of biofuels gets $7.5m funding support


Toronto, ON – A total of $7.5 million in funding is being provided by the Ontario government to help move two biofuel projects to the global marketplace.

In the first project, $5 million of the funding will go towards the creation of a new 19,000-sq-ft research centre, the Institute for Chemicals and Fuels from Alternative Resources. The centre, to be located at the University of Western Ontario’s experimental field station, will house facilities to test biofuel technologies now being developed by Western researchers.

The researchers are investigating a process called pyrolysis for turning agricultural waste, such as corn husks, into fuel for vehicles and other products, including organic insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers. The goal of the facility is to quickly move next generation biofuel research from the lab benches to a large demonstration project.

The new Institute for Chemicals and Fuels from Alternative Resources will partner with an Ontario company that is already in the early stages of bringing this technology to market: Agri-Therm (www.agri-therm.com/) of Dorchester. A successful spin-off of the University of Western Ontario faculty of Engineering, Agri-Therm is the maker of a patented, portable pyrolysis unit, which is being demonstrated to potential clients this summer.

The institute will also house two new energy-related research chairs and provide workspace for visiting scientists and students from Canada and abroad.

The institute is expected to establish ties with the Sarnia-Lambton Bioindustrial Innovation Centre (see www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/news/BioIC081407.asp) and create additional technology transfer and commercialization opportunities. Ontario committed $10 million to the creation of the Bioindustrial Innovation Centre last August, to develop environmentally friendly alternatives to fossil fuels. The Sarnia centre is expected to attract $1 billion in investment and support up to 1,000 jobs in research and engineering.

In the second project, $2.5 million will support collaboration between Western, the University of Guelph, the University of Waterloo and Stanton Farms to complete a new biogas facility at the Stanton farm in Ilderton, ON. The facility will house a biodigester system that will turn manure and waste water into energy, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and odour. The initial energy production capacity is expected to be enough to power almost a third of the homes in Ilderton.

The Stanton Farms biogas facility has also been designed to accommodate research and to function as a demonstration project for farming and renewable energy development. This will promote research, technology development and commercialization in the emerging biogas industry.