EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - May 31, 2013) - The Climate Change and Emissions Management (CCEMC) Corporation is funding three new initiatives through its Biological Greenhouse Gas Management Program. The program is managed on behalf of 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 CCEMC Managing Director Kirk Andries. "These projects will support Alberta's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and add to a growing body of knowledge."
"These early stage R&D projects hold great promise to make a difference in Alberta's resource sectors," said Dr. Stan Blade, Chief Executive Officer of Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions. "In addition to a reduced carbon footprint, the projects may lead to decreased production costs and value-add products."
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 biofilter performance.
While the traditional technologies for emission 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. Hettiaratchi pioneered the initial work in Canada on the technology.
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.
"It's important to look at areas of synergy for these industries," says project lead Dr. David Layzell, a Biological Sciences Professor affiliated with the University of Calgary's Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy. "We can get a bigger bang for the buck by getting our agriculture and forestry sectors to help the oil and gas sector solve some of its environmental problems."
The third CCEMC project, led by the 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 GHG reductions.
"The protocols require extensive data collection to commercialize offsets for use in the Alberta offset system," said Karen Haugen-Kozyra, Senior Partner with the Prasino Group. "We're working collaboratively to identify barriers and data gaps, and provide tools that farmers and aggregators can use to facilitate project development."
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.
The CCEMC focuses on stimulating transformative change. The CCEMC is a not-for-profit corporation that operates independently of government. It provides ongoing, dedicated funds to support the discovery, development and deployment of innovative clean technology. Funding for the CCEMC is collected from industry. Since 2007, Alberta facilities that annually produce more than 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions are legally required to reduce their greenhouse gas intensity. Companies have four options to meet their reduction targets: improve the efficiency of their operations, buy carbon credits in the Alberta-based offset system, purchase emission performance credits, or pay $15 into the Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund for every tonne over a facility's reduction limit. The CCEMC invests the money collected into the discovery, development and deployment of clean technology.
Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions is a publicly funded board-governed corporation that works with partners to identify, coordinate and fund research projects designed to help solve industry challenges with solutions that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits. Through this investment in science and innovation, AI Bio aims to help create new technologies and products that will grow Alberta's agriculture, food and forest sectors.
A backgrounder that summarizes the projects is available here: