Province green-lights bio-diesel project

Leader staff

As anticipated, Expander Energy has received its permit from Alberta Environment & Parks to build and operate a bio-diesel plant in the Mitsue Industrial Park. Construction is expected to begin later this year.

Vanderwell Contractors is a partner with Expander in the project. It will supply the initial feedstock for the plant, in the form of wood waste from its sawmill.

According to an April 7 story in Canada Newswire, the first phase of the project is a demo plant capable of producing 6.5 million litres of fuel per year. If and when this is shown to be commercially successful, Phase II kicks in. This entails an expansion of the plant to a 20 million litres per year capacity. It would require additional sources of feedstock, says the Newswire story.

“These could include other forestry residuals, landfill material and municipal wastewater solids, and others.”

The story goes on to say the company anticipates “that the Slave Lake area has a biomass availability that could support a facility producing 200 million litres of SynDiesel© per year.”

Expander’s patented process, as explained to The Leader by Expander vice president Gord Crawford, improves upon a method invented in Germany over 70 years ago. It first heats the biomass, captures the gas and then turns it into liquid. A by-product is hydrogen, which Expander hopes to be able to market separately.

Vanderwell Contractors’ owner Ken Vanderwell is quoted in the article, saying, “This is about converting waste material into a high-quality renewable low-carbon intensity fuel and a valuable hydrogen product that can help both the environment and create a new industry in Alberta and Canada.”

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