Canadian Biomass Magazine

News Biofuels
Expander Energy moving ahead with Slave Lake biomass/gas to liquids plant


May 27, 2021
By Expander Energy Inc.

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Plans for the construction of a first-of-its-kind biomass/gas to liquids plant in Slave Lake, Alta. are moving ahead. Expander Energy Inc.’s $35-million facility will have a capacity of 22 million litres per year of biomass/gas to liquids.

It will produce net-zero carbon-intensity diesel fuel, jet fuel and blue hydrogen, and is to be the first in a series of plants planned for the Slave Lake area, which could eventually reach more than 200 million litres per year with an approximate total project cost of $800 million.

The Government of Canada is implementing a Clean Fuel Standard that mandates all diesel fuels must meet a life cycle carbon intensity (CI) of 86.9 by 2025, a CI of 81.0 by 2030, and be net carbon neutral (CI=0) by 2050.

Expander has completed feasibility engineering and a detailed carbon intensity study for the implementation of carbon utilization and sequestration (CCUS) at the facility. Radicle Group Inc. has conducted a third-party lifecycle CI study that estimates the synthetic paraffinic diesel (SPD) is expected to have a carbon intensity of as low as -15 gCO2e/MJ. This exceptionally low carbon intensity fuel should be available for commercial markets by 2024.

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In addition to low carbon intensity SynDiesel, the plant will also co-produce blue hydrogen with a life cycle CI of as low as -2 kg CO2e/kg.

With a CI of less than zero, Expander’s SynDiesel, SynJet and hydrogen will not only meet Canada’s net-zero carbon fuel goal by 2050, but will do so 25 years ahead of schedule.

Expander’s diesel fuel, SynDiesel, is a drop-in fuel, able to directly replace conventional diesel fuels without the need for modifications to either engine or infrastructure. It is non-toxic, odourless and readily biodegradable, and reduces emissions of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), unburnt hydrocarbons (HC) and particulate matter (PM) – the latter being important to areas with air shed issues such as cities and mountain valleys.

Expander is evaluating market interest in providing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to the Canadian airline industry. Future facility expansions could include production of net-zero CI Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (FT-SPK)

“The government mandate is for Net Zero CI fuel is 2050,” Expander Energy CEO Steve Price said. “Expander can advance this timeline by decades with our Slave Lake project using our patented BGTL technology. This technology coupled with CCUS allows us to produce world class fuel within 18 months of commencing the project. That’s great news for Alberta and Canada.

Partners in the project are Vanderwell Contractors as the provider of biomass feedstock and plant site, AirTechnic as provider of the biomass gasification technology, and Startec Compression and Process as module design and fabricator.

The Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) are also supporters of this project.

“There is an imperative need to take climate change action, and the MNA recognizes that initiatives like this provide an opportunity for the MNA to implement its economic strategy by participating in this sustainable resource development,” Audrey Poitras, president of the Métis Nation of Alberta, said. “We believe that this opportunity resonates with traditional Métis values for using our resources effectively and wisely”.