In Canada, FORGE Hydrocarbons Corporation has announced an equity investment from Shell Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Royal Dutch Shell plc and a follow-on contribution from Valent Low-Carbon Technologies Corporation, a Canadian hybrid industrial technology development and investment company that is aggregating the low-carbon fuels’ value chain. The funds will help a CA$30 million build a first-of-its-kind commercial-scale, biofuel production plant in Sombra, Ontario.
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Registered in 2012 as a spin-off company from the University of Alberta, start-up FORGE Hydrocarbons Corporation (FORGE) patented Lipid-to-Hydrocarbon (LTH) technology creates renewable jet fuel, diesel, and naphtha from waste fats and oils.
The technology was invented by Dr David Bressler at the University of Alberta and licensed through TEC Edmonton to FORGE which was founded by biofuels entrepreneur Tim Haig, also the founder of BIOX Corporation, Canada’s first commercial renewable diesel company, now a part of World Energy LLC.
FORGE’s LTH technology is capable of transforming waste fats and other low-value organic oils into hydrocarbons that are indistinguishable from petroleum-based hydrocarbons, without any catalyst or hydrogen. The LTH technology utilizes a robust integrated biorefining approach to produce “true” hydrocarbon fuels, solvents, and chemicals.
We know that oil under the earth’s crust was created from lipids without expensive catalysts and hydrogen. FORGE mimics nature’s processes, except that we do it in hours not millions of years, said Tim Haig, Founder & CEO, FORGE Hydrocarbons.
The research, development and first pilot facility that enabled LTH technology were made possible by a series of provincial and federal investments from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Western Economic Diversification Canada, Alberta Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, Alberta Innovates, Future Energy Systems: University of Alberta, Natural Resources Canada (NRC), and Mitacs.
According to FORGE, its renewable diesel and jet fuels are over 90 percent less carbon-intensive than fossil-based diesel and are cheaper to produce than conventional renewable diesel. In addition, as ‘drop-in’ ready, they require no specialized blending infrastructure.
FORGE has unlocked nature’s ways in a cost-competitive, feedstock abundant and capital-light business model. This is a cornerstone technology of the low-carbon fuels value chain that the global transportation sector in air, sea and land, has been searching for, said Karlis Vasarais, EVP, Valent Low-Carbon Technologies.
Shell Ventures joins FORGE’s funders and collaborators including World Energy, Lockheed Martin, Valent Low-Carbon Technologies and Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).
Biofuels are critical in the move to lower-carbon marine, aviation, and heavy-duty transport. Collaboration will be key to a successful energy transition and Shell’s investment in FORGE to progress this commercial-scale project can help accelerate this technology, said Andrew Murfin, General Manager Advanced Biofuels at Shell.
Commercial biorefinery in Ontario
FORGE is initially targeting the over four-billion-gallon (≈ 15.14 billion litre) mandated market in North America for renewable diesel and jet-fuels market. FORGE will tap into abundant, low-cost and often untapped lipid feedstocks.
The capacity of the Sombra production plant is 7.5 million (US) gallons (≈ 28.3 million litres) of renewable fuels annually. The project will create approximately 150 construction and engineering jobs during the build phase and more than 45 full-time jobs for the commercial operation of the facility.
This is a prime example of how basic research can drive remarkable innovations and economic benefits. When a major international company like Shell invests, it further demonstrates the power of research and university-industry connections. The University is very proud to have nurtured FORGE’s evolution through 17 years of research to technology development to company creation and beyond, ended Matthias Ruth, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, University of Alberta.