Alternative fuel research gets federal funding
By Vincent McDermott
Fort McMurray-Athabasca MP Brian Jean announced Friday that research into a new alternative fuel technology at the
University of Alberta will be receiving federal support from Ottawa.
The experimental technology, known as Lipid to Hydrocarbon (LTH) technology, involves the conversion of agricultural materials usually seen as offering little to no value — such as animal fats and vegetable oils, as well as oils derived from algae — into fuels and other chemicals.
“Someday, the oil will run out and we have to have other things in order to supplement that,” Jean said. “Today’s investment will provide the tools needed to test, demonstrate and ultimately commercialize an important western Canadian technological achievement that will open up new commercial opportunities for our agricultural sector.”
These by-products can then be used to enhance a number of other commercial applications, ranging from jet fuel and gasoline to specialized chemicals used in oil and gas drilling.
The announcement represents a federal investment of $970,000 to the school, which hopes to establish a pilot plant for research purposes. The plant would be able to provide many of the same commercial and industrial products that are currently based in crude oil, such as gasoline, diesel, plastics and lubricants.
“The potential applications of the technology and research is limitless,” said Kelly Maher, program director of development for the Biorefining Conversions Network at the university.
The next two years of the project will see the federal government’s grants coupled with a $891,522 investment from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency. Once testing is complete, the school hopes that the technology will receive investments from the private sector.
The project is spearheaded by the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences. The plant will be located at the school’s south campus. The school has been working on the technology and research for the past nine years.