Government invests in biofuel research
March 2, 2015 - Biofuel producers in Western Canada will soon be able to purify and convert raw glycerol more cost-effectively thanks to an investment of $538,542 from the federal government.
By Andrew Macklin
With this funding, researchers at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) will be able to purchase highly-specialized equipment for the development and commercialization of new, more efficient and affordable glycerol purification and conversion technologies.
“Our Government is pleased to support this collaborative project between industry and University of Saskatchewan, providing innovative technologies that will help increase the productivity and competitiveness of the biofuel and biochemical sectors in Western Canada,” said Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification.
Glycerol, a by-product of processing canola into biodiesel, must be separated from biodiesel as it does not burn effectively. While raw glycerol has limited commercial value, the U of S’ purification technology could double the price that companies can charge for the substance, in turn adding more value to biodiesel production.
“This major investment in biofuels-related research builds on an area of outstanding U of S research strength, developing new cutting-edge technologies that will benefit biofuel producers and our economy,” Karen Chad, Vice-President Research, University of Saskatchewan. “It’s an excellent example of how we work with industrial and government partners to help find clean energy solutions that can lead to spin-off companies and new job opportunities.”
Half of Canada’s 23 biodiesel companies are located in Western Canada, producing over 500 million litres of biodiesel and 50 million litres of glycerol per year. Canadians use about 25 billion litres of diesel per year.
The U of S plans to develop and file three patents: one for the purification technology, and two for the conversion technologies. A Saskatchewan start-up company is expected to manufacture all three technologies for commercial use, and subsequently market them.