Airex Energy partners to build Canada’s first industrial biochar plant in Quebec
July 6, 2023
By Airex Energy
The first phase of the plant will be finalized in 2024, with an initial production capacity of 10,000 tonnes per year.
Airex Energy, Groupe Rémabec and SUEZ have joined forces to create Canada’s first industrial biochar production plant in Port-Cartier, Que.
The first phase of the plant will be finalized in 2024, with an initial production capacity of 10,000 tonnes per year. By 2026, annual production capacity will triple, making it the largest biochar plant in North America. This is the first project resulting from the partnership between SUEZ and Airex Energy which aims to produce 350,000 tonnes of biochar by 2035.
The facility, owned by CARBONITY, a joint-venture equally owned by the three partners, will employ 75 people locally. It will produce a carbon-rich biochar with high environmental qualities from the residual biomass of Groupe Rémabec’s operations. Biochar is a material with highly promising environmental benefits, identified by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as one of five negative-emission solutions to curb global warming and help achieve the carbon-neutral targets set by the Paris agreements.
This first Canadian facility will leverage the cutting-edge equipment, profound expertise, and groundbreaking CarbonFX pyrolysis technology developed by Airex Energy as well as on the expertise of SUEZ, a world leader in the transformation and valorization of organic waste, agricultural soil enhancement, biofertilizers, and new resources from the circular economy enabling its customers to reduce their carbon footprint.
“We are delighted to be a partner in this major project, which represents an unparalleled opportunity for decarbonization in Québec. This project is the perfect example of the growth and decarbonization strategy advocated by the Québec government,” explains Michel Gagnon, CEO of Airex Energy and chairman of the joint venture. “This project brings to the forefront CarbonFX technology, an innovation proudly developed in Québec, which is now considered a benchmark worldwide,” he adds.
“By transforming forest and agricultural residues into carbon sinks and fertilizers, SUEZ creates value over the entire life cycle of the material. SUEZ will leverage its expertise in constructing and operating industrial facilities to enable the global deployment of this groundbreaking decarbonization solution,” says Yves Rannou, chief operating officer Recycling & Recovery, executive vice-president of SUEZ.
“With our partners Airex Energy and SUEZ, we are aiming on creating a more sustainable economy by accelerating decarbonization. We are committed to promoting innovation, fostering new technologies and investing in solutions to tackle climate change head-on, while providing the forest industry with new opportunities. Together, we can build a more sustainable and prosperous future,” mentions president and chief operating officer of Groupe Rémabec, Réjean Paré.
This project was made possible thanks to the financial participation of the Quebec and Canadian governments.
“Government of Canada has made concrete commitments to demonstrate that a strong economy and a healthy environment go hand-in-hand. That is why Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) is granting a repayable contribution of $3M to CARBONITY for its set up project in Port-Cartier. By assisting startups and supporting innovation in the development of greener technologies and products, we are paving the way for the jobs of tomorrow,” says Pascale St-Onge, Member of Parliament for Brome-Missisquoi, Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for CED.
“Canada’s forest sector has been an economic driver for communities across Canada, providing livelihoods and opportunity for workers and families. By investing in innovative technologies and practices, such as CARBONITY, we are creating pathways to lower emissions and good jobs for workers in this key sector,” mentions Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resource.
“With this project, Québec is putting additional tools in place to decarbonize its economy. This new biochar plant will make it possible to decarbonize certain metallurgical and agricultural processes more rapidly while creating economic benefits here on the North Shore,” indicates Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of the Economy, Innovation and Energy, Minister Responsible for Regional Economic Development and Minister Responsible for Montréal and the Metropolitan Region.
Biochar: a wide range of benefits
Used as a soil amendment, biochar offers several benefits, including carbon sequestration, increased nutrient retention, and optimized soil aeration and drainage. Its properties allow it to contribute to soil regeneration, limit the use of fertilizers and sustain water resources.
When added to concrete or asphalt formulations, biochar brings new functionalities to the final material while helping to reduce its carbon footprint, a key issue for the construction sector. At last, the production of biochar at high-temperature and with oxygen-free pyrolysis will generate surplus energy in the form of steam or pyrolysis oil, which can be directly reused on site.
The project will sequester 75,000 tonnes of carbon per year. By sequestering carbon, biochar production will generate guaranteed, certified carbon credits that will be sold on the voluntary market by First Climate.
“Our partnership with CARBONITY is an important step in the implementation of large-scale carbon storage and recovery projects. The players entering this market have confirmed the potential of biochar to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement. First Climate will ensure that the carbon recovery achieved through the groundbreaking Port-Cartier industrial project will be sustainable, transparent and value-added, in compliance with the highest standards and norms,” adds Olaf Bachert, CEO of First Climate.
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