The Wonder from Down Under, and Canada’ll fund ‘er: Canfor picks up $13M for Licella biofuels project

March 14, 2017 |

In Ottawa, the Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, pledged  a $13M  non-repayable contribution through Sustainable Development Technology Canada that will enable Canfor to further develop and demonstrate Licella’s technology — it will take what is a currently a waste product from its production processes and develop it into a low-cost biofuels product.

Canfor’s new biocrude could be refined by existing refineries into next-generation biofuels and biochemicals that can be easily integrated into conventional fuels markets. Canfor Pulp Products Inc is a top global producer of premium pulp and paper products that is also one of North America’s largest green energy producers — and we reported previously on the project, here and here.

From DC to BC: Canada’s surge as the US contemplates retreat

The news comes as Bains also tipped an investment of up to $20 million to support clean energy projects at the pre-commercialization stage. This investment, part of a $40-million joint initiative that includes matching funds from the province of British Columbia, will help companies with innovative projects at the prototype, field testing and demonstration stages. Interested parties will be able to submit their applications in early April 2017 to Sustainable Development Technology Canada.

The news also comes as the United States shows unmistakable signs of re-considering the level of public sector policy and financial support of clean technology — from rumors of slashed employee levels at government agencies (such as a rumored 20% cut in EPA staff levels) and abandonment of the Clean Power Plan.

The Licella-Canfor backstory

We reported last July that, following CanFor’s announcement to create a joint venture with Licella for development of a biocrude project, the company has further revealed plans to install the technology at a new facility in Prince George where it hopes to produce 400,000 barrels of fuel per year from wood waste at its pulp mills. The facility is expected to cost around $70 million.

We reported last May that Licella and Canfor formed a joint-venture under the name “Licella Pulp Joint Venture” to integrate Licella’s unique Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor upgrading platform into Canfor Pulp’s kraft and mechanical pulp mills to economically convert biomass, including wood residues from Canfor Pulp’s kraft pulping processes, into biocrude oil, to produce next generation biofuels and biochemicals.

This additional residue stream refining would allow Canfor Pulp to further optimise their pulp production capacity. Upon successful integration of the Cat-HTR technology, the Licella Pulp Joint Venture would look towards offering this solution to other third-party Kraft and mechanical pulp mills.

This agreement followed a successful program of preliminary trials conducted on feedstock from Canfor Pulp’s Prince George, British Columbia pulp mill at Licella’s pilot plants located in New South Wales, Australia. In these trials, wood residue streams from Canfor Pulp’s kraft process were successfully converted into a stable biocrude oil.

The Multi-Slide Guide

We profiled Licella: The Wonder from Down Under in our Multi-Slide Guide here.

The Pan-Canadian Framework backstory

The focus on clean technology, innovation and growth is a core element of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Through the Framework, Canada will focus on having globally competitive Canadian businesses as we transition to a low-carbon economy.

Last December, Canada’s First Ministers adopted the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. It outlines federal-provincial-territorial commitments on action on zero-emissions vehicle technologies, including plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, and identifies opportunities for producing renewable fuels and bioproducts—for example, by generating renewable fuel from waste.

Meanwhile., Canada’s Budget 2016 provided an additional $50 million over four years, beginning in 2017–18, to Sustainable Development Technology Canada for the SD Tech Fund.

Licella elsewhere on the move

Last week we reported from ABLC that Licella (through its subsidiary Cat-HTR Plastics) and Armstrong Chemicals unveiled a joint venture to build the world’s first commercial-scale hydrothermal upgrading plants for End of Life Plastic to chemicals. The plant will come on-line in 2018.

The JV expands an Agency Agreement signed by the two partners last September, and follows a series of extensive and successful trials at Licella’s large pilot plant on the NSW central coast in Australia.

The financing for the first plant is in place with funding for an additional three plants progressing well. The initial plant is scheduled to be operational in 2018 and will be located on the Wilton industrial complex in the North East of England. It will be capable of upgrading up to 20,000 tonnes of End of Life Plastic using the Cat-HTR platform.

Reaction from the stakeholders

From left: The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development; Robert Downie, General Manager Technology Delivery, Licella (Seconded to Canfor Pulp); James Spankie, Director Biofuel Development, Canfor Pulp Ltd; Martin Pudlas, Vice-President, Operations, Canfor Pulp Products Inc.; Honourable Amrik Virk, BC Minister of Technology, Innovation & Citizens’ Services

“Our government is proud to support Canadian clean tech and advanced manufacturing companies like AFCC and Canfor. Through innovation, these two firms will make great advances in energy efficiency, leading to lower carbon emissions, healthier communities and a cleaner environment. Our government will continue to work with partners to invest in clean technologies that lead to better jobs, better opportunities and a better living standard for the middle class.” – The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“Canadian companies are partnering to lead on clean technology innovation, from fuel cells to biofuels. The investments announced today will create new jobs and provide environmental benefits to British Columbians and all Canadians.” – Leah Lawrence, President and CEO, Sustainable Development Technology Canada

“Demand for automotive fuel cell development is higher than ever before. Fuel cells offer a full-performance, high-range, high-efficiency, zero-emission vehicle alternative to combustion engines. Canada has a strong history of and world leading expertise in designing and manufacturing automotive fuel cells. Continuing to develop and establish roots ensures that Canadians are major players.” – Thorsten Wesse, CEO, Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation

“We have the opportunity to create a truly renewable biofuel that can easily integrate with conventional fuels to dramatically lower environmental impacts. This funding from SDTC provides critical support as we look to operationalize this truly transformative green technology.”– Martin Pudlas, Vice-President, Operations, Canfor Pulp Products Inc.


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