Sustainable Development Technlogy Canada just completed its 13th funding round, this time putting $53 million into 16 cleantech projects and bringing its total funding to $376 million. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, SDTC only invests if private consortia come to the table with two-thirds of project funding. In total, 154 project have been funded with $1.3 billion in public-private funds.
Here are, in my opinion, some of the more interesting projects that got funded in this round:
Alterna Energy Inc. — This B.C.-based company is going to build and demonstrate a “biocarbon” production facility designed to process wood residues, such as bark, sawmill waste, forest slash and trees killed by pine beetle infestation. The facility will be able to turn 110,000 tonnes of wood residue into 25,000 tonnes of biocarbon annually. So what is biocarbon? Its physical and chemical properties are very similar to coal. Alterna’s process carbonizes the wood — or any other form of biomass — in about 1.5 hours and pelletizes it with virtually no external energy inputs. The resulting pellets, because they closely resemble coal, can be used at existing coal-fired generating stations with limited modifications. Such a process could bode well for Ontario Power Generation, which wants to convert some coal-fired units to 100 per cent biomass. Perhaps biocarbon is the way to go. (I should point out that biocarbon is essentially biochar, which offers a great way to sequester carbon while reviving depleted soils and enhancing plant growth. Read previous post on biochar here).
General Fusion Inc. — Another B.C.-based company, General Fusion, has developed a technology that uses acoustic waves to create fusion reactors. The end goal is to produce inexpensive and plentiful electricity without greenhouse gas emissions, or long-lived radioactive waste. Under this project, the company will construct a full-scale engine that will demonstrate improved energy conversion efficiencies. The demonstration project will produce 600 megajoules of thermal energy per cycle.
Greenfield Ethanol Inc. — This Toronto-based ethanol producer will integrate a lignocellulosic process into an existing facility as part of a pre-commercial pilot. It will produce ethanol using corn cobs using a special pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis process that, if it works as planned, could be applied to first-generation ethanol facilities that, in turn, could be retrofitted to second generation facilities. The company believes it could produce 70 million litres per year of ethanol just on corn cobs by 2015.
Performance Plants Inc. — This company is based in Kingston, Ontario, and has developed a more efficient way to convert cellulosic feedstocks into ethanol by modifying the cell wall structure of cellulose fibres. In essence, the company’s process makes it easier for the cell walls to release useable sugars that are eventually converted into alcohols. This innovation will lead to lower energy consumption during ethanol production, a lower requirement for enzymes, and faster processing times. SDTC is providing $5.6 million in funding for this project.
SunCentral Inc. — Another B.C.-based company, SunCentral has developed a solar canopy illumination system that brings daylight inside multistory buildings to cut down on daytime lighting costs. It uses low cost tracking mirrors and simple light guides in a modular design. First it collects sunlight on the exterior façade of a building and then distributes it up to 20 metres into the building core. This technology is easy to retrofit to existing buildings undergoing renovations or, alternatively, it can be included in the design of new buildings. The company claims that energy savings on commercial building lighting will be at least 25 per cent.