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Steeper Energy and Invest Alberta eye commercial biocrude plant

Steeper Energy and Invest Alberta eye commercial biocrude plant
During the Hydrofaction conversion process, the properties of the biocrude are tunable by varying parameters such as temperature, and pressure and by introducing catalysts that are customized for Hydrofaction (photo courtesy Steeper).

Canadian-Danish advanced biofuel technology developer Steeper Energy Ltd (Steeper) has announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Invest Alberta Corporation (Invest Alberta) to commercialize Steeper’s proprietary "Hydrofaction" technology within Alberta (AB), aligning with Alberta’s broader goal of becoming Canada’s cleantech leader

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Hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) applies supercritical water as a reaction medium for the conversion of biomass directly into a high-energy density renewable biocrude oil.

According to the company, its Hydrofaction technology is a proprietary form of Hydrothermal Liquefaction (HTL) that mimics and accelerates nature by subjecting wet biomass to heat and high pressure, which over the firm’s 12-year history has been proven capable of converting a wide range of biowaste feedstocks to flexible renewable biocrude.

The process conditions are carefully chosen to promote reaction pathways that favor high yields of high-quality renewable oil and it is possible to convert up to 85 percent of incoming biomass on an energy basis, making it one of the most effective conversion technologies available the company says.

Hydrofaction biocrude can be used directly or upgraded for use as a renewable diesel for marine, or road transportation and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Plans for commercial plant

The MoU formalizes the intent of Invest Alberta and Steeper to realize the development of a first-of-its-kind Hydrofaction commercial plant in Alberta.

Invest Alberta will provide Steeper with support to build connections with project stakeholders, optimize potential incentives, advise regarding regulatory requirements, and communicate the impact that this project will have on Alberta’s ever-expanding renewable energy landscape.

It is anticipated that the project will spur economic growth, create high-quality and sustainable job opportunities within local and Indigenous communities, and further diversify Alberta’s renewable technologies sector, reinforcing its status as a global innovation hub.

Steeper Energy looks forward to working with Invest Alberta, as their support will be important to expedite the pathway to a first commercial project. Alberta is globally an ideal location for a first-of-kind Hydrofaction commercial project due to the availability of biomass feedstocks, and Alberta’s deep talent pool and pedigree in energy processing technologies and markets. Alberta’s clear desire to be a leader in energy transition combined with federal Clean Fuels Regulations and recent investments all are catalysts to help Steeper achieve our broader goals, said Bevan May, President of Steeper Energy.

Residual biomass feedstock

Steeper’s first commercial plant will focus on the use of third-generation biomass, which is the most prolifically available on the planet and includes wastes that have no or little commercial value, are not used as food, and do not displace food-growing land.

Examples of this are non-commercial forestry waste such as treetops, limbs, bark, and sawdust, sugarcane bagasse, the biogenic portion of urban waste, and corn stover.

In Alberta, Steeper’s first plant will specifically focus on the large volumes of forestry waste that would otherwise need to be burned to manage forest fire risk.

Steeper is actively identifying potential commercial partners and evaluating sites for the construction of this project.

This MoU aligns with efforts already underway in relation to activity under Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) where Steeper was awarded CA$5 million in funding in 2021 and focused on establishing the first commercial-scale plant in Alberta.

Over the past 12 years, Steeper’s Hydrofaction has undergone extensive validation through various stages of a continuous pilot and demonstration-scale plant operations.

The renewable fuels produced align with global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and further solidify Alberta’s commitment to advancing the clean technology sector.

Steeper’s technology represents an innovative way to transform biomass into usable, renewable biocrude, which can then be used as a clean fuel source. The commercialization of this technology within Alberta could help diversify the province’s energy sector and strengthen our position as an international leader in responsible energy production, said Rick Christiaanse CEO of Invest Alberta.

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