Steeper Energy, Invest Alberta to bring biocrude plant to Alberta
April 12, 2023
By Steeper Energy
Steeper Energy announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Invest Alberta Corporation to commercialize Steeper’s proprietary Hydrofaction technology within Alberta, aligning with Alberta’s broader goal of becoming Canada’s cleantech leader.
Steeper’s Hydrofaction technology is a proprietary form of Hydrothermal Liquefaction (HTL) which over Steeper’s 12-year history has been proven capable of converting a wide range of biowaste feedstocks to flexible renewable biocrude. Hydrofaction biocrude can be used directly or upgraded for use as a renewable marine, diesel, or aviation fuel.
The MOU formalizes the intent of Invest Alberta and Steeper to realize the development of a first-of-its-kind Hydrofaction commercial plant in Alberta. Invest Alberta will provide Steeper with support to build connections with project stakeholders, optimize potential incentives, advise regarding regulatory requirements, and communicate the impact that this project will have on Alberta’s ever-expanding renewable energy landscape. It is anticipated that the project will spur economic growth, create high-quality and sustainable job opportunities within local and Indigenous communities, and further diversify Alberta’s renewable technologies sector, reinforcing its status as a global innovation hub.
Steeper’s first commercial plant will focus on the use of third-generation biomass, which is the most prolifically available on the planet and includes wastes that have no or little commercial value, are not used as a food, and do not displace food-growing land. Examples of this are non-commercial forestry waste such as treetops, limbs, bark and sawdust, bagasse (sugar-cane waste) the biogenic portion of urban waste, and corn stover (all the non-kernel portion of corn production). In Alberta, Steeper’s first plant will specifically focus on the large volumes of forestry waste that would otherwise need to be burned to manage forest fire risk.
Steeper is actively identifying potential commercial partners and evaluating sites for construction of this project. This MOU aligns with efforts already underway in relation to activity under Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) where Steeper was awarded $5 million in funding in 2021 focused on establishing a first commercial scale plant in Alberta.
Over the past 12 years, Steeper’s Hydrofaction® has undergone extensive validation through various stages of continuous pilot and demonstration-scale plant operations. The renewable fuels produced aligns with global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and further solidifies Alberta’s commitment to advancing the clean technology sector.
Rick Christiaanse, chief executive officer, Invest Alberta, said: “Steeper’s technology represents an innovative way to transform biomass into usable, renewable biocrude, which can then be used as a clean fuel source. The commercialization of this technology within Alberta could help diversify the province’s energy sector and strengthen our position as an international leader in responsible energy production.”
Bevan May, president, Steeper Energy, said: “Steeper Energy looks forward to working with Invest Alberta, as their support will be important to expedite the pathway to a first commercial project. Alberta is globally an ideal location for a first-of-kind Hydrofaction commercial project due to the availability of biomass feedstocks, and Alberta’s deep talent pool and pedigree in energy processing technologies and markets. Alberta’s clear desire to be a leader in energy transition combined with federal Clean Fuels Regulations and recent investments all are catalysts to help Steeper achieve our broader goals.”
Hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) applies supercritical water as a reaction medium for the conversion of biomass directly into a high-energy density renewable biocrude oil. Steeper’s unique Hydrofaction process mimics and accelerates nature by subjecting wet biomass to heat and high pressure. The process conditions are carefully chosen to promote reaction pathways that favour high yields of high-quality renewable oil. With Steeper’s Hydrofaction technology it is possible to convert up to 85 per cent of incoming biomass on an energy basis, making it one of the most effective conversion technologies available.
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