July 10, 2006

Soil and water projects debut in SDTC's latest round of funding

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) has approved $48 million in new funding for the development and demonstration of clean technologies designed to benefit the environment and economy. For the first time, soil and water-related projects are among the 22 projects receiving funds. Funding for each project is subject to final contract execution.

The SDTC will direct $4 million toward five water and soil-related initiatives, including development of monitoring and detection equipment that to help prevent watermain breaks.

Another $7.3 million has been allocated for four biofuel technology projects, ranging from the production of ethanol from cellulose to biodiesel production from mustard seed. This brings SDTC's total commitment to biofuel technology initiatives to $59 million.

The 22 newly-approved projects address seven of Canada's core economic sectors: energy utilization (six projects); power generation (five projects); transportation (four projects); energy exploration and production (three projects); waste management (two projecs); agriculture, and forestry and wood products (one project each).

The private and public sector consortia partners behind the projects are investing an additional $111 million. This represents a ratio of more than 2:1 for industry partner contribution to SDTC investment.

"The large contribution of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to innovation in Canada is reflected in the fact that 89% of SDTC's funded projects are led by SMEs, a trend that has continued in this funding round," SDTC president and CEO Vicky Sharpe noted. She further pointed that SDTC-funded projects "often integrate clean air, climate change, clean water and clean soil benefits, providing holistic, real-world solutions for industry."

Since April 2002, SDTC has completed eight funding rounds, committed $217 million to 97 clean technology projects, and leveraged $559 million from project consortia members, for a total portfolio value of $776 million. SDTC remains on track to allocate all of its funds up to December 2010.

Summaries of the latest funded projects, with consortium members listed for each one, may be viewed on the SDTC Web site, www.sdtc.ca. Highlights of some of the new projects are outlined below.

Ferti-Val, a Bromptonville, Quebec firm, is pursuing a waste management project which will create dry municipal wastewater treatment sludge (biosolids) to create a dry fuel. The company will work with its partners, Mechtronix Sysetems and the city of Granby, to apply and tailor the Valoris(tm) process, an existing European sludge drying technology, to Canadian conditions. In addition to contributing to clean water and soil and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, this project is set apart by its orientation to the municipal sector, whereas most other biomass drying projects tend to focus on agricultural or pulp and paper wastes.

Another of the clean water projects is being led by Maritime Innovation, of Rimouski, Quebec. Targeting the transportation sector, the "No Invasive Species On Board" (NISOB) project is a ballast water treatment program aimed at preventing the introduction of aquatic invasive species into Canadian waters from ships' ballast water. The demonstration program will work to enhance biological de-oxygenation and chemical treatment technologies and develop a new application for a filtration unit that could be used to pre-treat ships' ballast water and sediments. This project is timely in view of the newly finalized federal ballast water management regulations (see story this issue). Among the consortium partners are Kinectrics, Degussa Canada, MD Technologies, the Quebec Maritime Institute, the Marine Biotechnology Research Centre and Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Maurice Lamontagne Institute.

A Mississauga, Ont firm, The Pressure Pipe Inspection Company (PPIC), is leading an energy utilization sector project to ensure clean water and soil. PPIC and its partners will develop and demonstrate the "PipeDiver," a robotic inspection device designed to detect cracks or other stresses in small-diameter, prestressed cylindrical concrete pipes (PCCP) used for water distribution. This technology will give water utilities a safe, effective and economic means of monitoring their water distribution networks. Canada's PCCP infrastructure is aging and beginning to decay. Although the risk of actual pipe failure is low, any such failure that does occur can be catastrophic and costly, resulting in disrupted water supply and damage to adjacent pipes and other infrastructure. Other consortium partners include C-Core, Halifax Regional Water Commission, Orvitek, Queen's University, InvoDan Engineering and Hyprescon.

In an energy exploration and production project, TSC, based in Calgary, will work with Deer Creek Energy to demonstrate a new oil sands mining technology designed to increase the rate of bitumen recovery significantly while reducing demand for water from the Athabaska River system. Through the recycling of process water, this technology will also reduce energy requirements and the need for tailings ponds. The partners plan to build and operate a pilot plant to demonstrate TSC's bitumen extraction and tailings management systems and verify the effectiveness of the technology for commercial-scale use.

Also targeting energy exploration and production, Bio Vision Technology, of New Minas, NS, will work with Coles Associates to demonstrate a new biofuel plant designed to convert renewable biomass into feedstocks suitable for processing into fuel ethanol and other marketable chemical commodities such as lignin, furfural and acetic acid. Previously, engineering and economic challenges have made the conversion of woody plant fibres (lignocellulose) into industrially useable sugars commercially unfeasible. However, Bio Vision has developed an integrated system with a thermal reactor that uses steam fractionation to hydrolyze these fibres. Downstream processes convert the output into fuel ethanol and other marketable products, and the resulting feedstocks can also be used to manufacture value-added products such biodegradable plastics, specialty chemicals, lubricants and paints. BioVision's small-scale technology minimizes feedstock transportation costs and makes valuable commodity production possible in rural regions with smaller waste volumes.

Finally, Chinook Mobile Heating and De-icing, of Ottawa, and its consortium partner, Hovey Manufacturing, will undertake a transportation project demonstrating a new aircraft de-icing technology designed to reduce the environmental and economic impacts associated with current methods typically involving the use of glycol. (More than 20 million litres of glycol-based fluids are currently used annually in Canadian aircraft de-icing operations.) The consortium's tempered steam process uses heated, steam-infused air to melt the ice on aircraft surfaces, followed by heated air alone for drying. The process can be applied at the gate, reducing aircraft fuel consumption and thus costs. Reduced as well are GHG emissions from engine idling and the oxidation of unrecovered glycol.

The next SDTC call for Statements of Interest (SOIs) will be launched on August 23, 2006 and will include a request for projects with technologies that address climate change, clean air, clean water and clean soil issues. More information is available from Andrée Mongeon at SDTC, 613/234-6313, ext 224, E-mail a.mongeon@sdtc.ca, Web site www.sdtc.ca.

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