Biological projects from CCEMC to benefit industry

June 03, 2013
June 3, 2013, Edmonton, Alta. - The Climate Change and Emissions Corporation is funding three initiatives through its Biological Greenhouse Gas Management Program that is managed on behalf of the CCEMC by Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions.

The initiatives include optimizing small methane biofilters for controlling low volume point-source emissions, creating activated biocarbon from wood-residue to support water remediation in the oil sands, and a program that will help Alberta farmers implement offset projects and improve sustainability practices.

The three projects have a combined value of more than $1 million, and the CCEMC is committing more than $880,000 in support.

"The CCEMC knows that there is significant potential to reduce emissions using biological approaches," said Kirk Andries, CCEMC managing director. "These projects will support Alberta's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and add to a growing body of knowledge."

The first project, through the University of Calgary, will use filters containing naturally occurring microbes that live on methane gas to reduce low-volume methane emissions at oil and gas field sites, landfills and livestock feedlots/sludge lagoons. It includes a market study, pilot projects and development of a monitoring protocol to measure biofilters performance.

While the traditional technologies for emissions control may be economical at large-scale industrial operations producing a substantial volume of methane - such as a sour natural gas processing plant or a big municipal landfill, they are not economically feasible for low-volume and low-quality point-source emissions.

Small modular biofilters may prove to be one of the cheapest technologies currently available for controlling low-volume, low-quality methane emissions and reduce the need for flaring methane in oil and gas fields.

"The introduction of a novel technology to combat low-volume methane emissions that cannot be controlled using conventional methods will contribute immensely to achieving both Alberta and Canada's climate change goals," says project lead, Dr. Patrick Hettiaratchi, professor of Civil Engineering in the Schulich School of Engineering.

In the second project, a new type of biochar will be created to support water remediation in the oil sands. The research team is working on turning aspen wood residue from logging operations in northern Alberta into a novel type of ‘activated' adsorbing biocarbon.

The Third CCEMC project, led by Prasino Group, is a study validating two protocols in the agriculture industry. The Alberta agriculture industry has offset protocols that generate credits from avoided greenhouse gas emissions under the Alberta offset system. The protocol validation studies are intended to help farmers, aggregators and verifiers implement offset projects and design scalable approaches to maximize greenhouse gas reductions.

The project includes analysis to help farmers understand when it is cost-effective to participate in the offset program and tools, such as calculators and spreadsheets, so farmers can make informed decisions about pricing and costs.

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