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Edmonton biofuel startup Forge Hydrocarbons gets $4.2 million

Forge Hydrocarbons gets influx of federal cash for new production plant

Forge Hydrocarbons just received a $4.2 million towards a new production plant.


Forge Hydrocarbons just received a $4.2 million towards a new production plant.

An Edmonton biofuel company that turns animal fat and crop seed oil into “drop-in” fuels, chemically indistinguishable from petroleum-based fuel, has received $4.2 million to move forward on a production plant.

Forge Hydrocarbons is the company that hopes to use technology created by University of Alberta bioresource scientist David Bressler to make biofuels more cheaply.

“It’s a huge validation,” Bressler said, in a release Monday. “It’s capital investment. It’s not a research project anymore.”

The grant comes from Sustainable Development Technology Canada, which funds groundbreaking, economically viable products.

While they’re far from the first company to make biofuels, Neil Vanknotsenburg, vice-president of projects for Forge, said Bressler’s technique is a simpler, and therefore cheaper, process.

At it’s most basic, the creation of biofuel means turning fats into hydrocarbons, a process that usually requires both hydrogen and a catalyst to get the reaction going, but Vanknotsenburg said their technique is unique in that it requires neither.

Their process is also able to use grease rendered from dirtier fuels like cooking oil.

“Our business plan is based on lower cost feed stocks like yellow grease and brown grease which run 15 to 20 cents a pound compared to 30 cents a pound for canola and seed oils,” Vanknotsenburg said.

They hope to sell the oil to oil and gas companies, who are required to have a certain amount of renewable content.

“The molecule is identical to the petroleum-based hydrocarbon so it’s kind of a great place to be, you’re making something that the oil and gas guys want and we’re making it cheaper than the traditional process,” Vanknotsenburg said.

Design for the new plant will start later this year after they find a location, and construction is scheduled to start next year. Once built, the plant will produce 19 million litres of biofuel every year.

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