Alberta is investing $15 million across five Western Canadian organizations in order to help boost regional advancements in carbon fibre production technologies.
Alberta Innovates and Emissions Reduction Alberta announced this week the funded projects representing Phase III of the region’s Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge.
“Carbon Fibre is a significant opportunity for Alberta to diversify our economy,” asserts Nate Glubish, who serves as Alberta’s Minister of Technology and Innovation. “Accelerating innovation in this field is the first step to unlocking enormous value for the benefit of all Albertans.”
“It takes more than good ideas to commercialize and deploy new technologies that reduce emissions and grow the economy,” says Justin Riemer, chief executive of ERA. “ERA is pleased to support game changing technologies that will lead to future materials, energy systems, and markets with funding from the Government of Alberta, and in collaboration with our partners in the innovation system.”
Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas, added that “This funding shows just how aligned our innovation system is when it comes to advancing transformative technologies that lead to future materials and markets.”
Laura Kilcrease, chief executive of Alberta Innovates, agrees, stating that her province “is well positioned to lead this next frontier.”
Among 13 applicants, all five funded projects involve producing carbon fibre from Alberta bitumen at scale and at lower cost than current carbon fibre products, according to official details of the friendly competition.
One of the Phase III CFGC recipients is Edmonton-based Thread Innovations, where Dr. Weixing Chen and his team are looking at novel ways to convert bitumen from Alberta into high-value carbon fibre by using vacuum refinery residue-derived and asphaltenes-based precursors.
Thread Innovations received $1M from Alberta Innovates and $3M from ERA for a total of $4M in funding.
“Alberta’s advantage is our entrepreneurship, strong workforce, and a government committed to leading our province into a diversified economy,” stated Tony Loria, board chair for Thread. “Funded through Alberta Innovates and in collaboration with Emissions Reductions Alberta, the Bitumen Beyond Combustion Program is a working example of how we can leverage our vast Alberta oil sands into innovative products that will drive Canada’s future.”
Since being established in 2009, ERA has committed $887 million toward 254 projects worth $7.7 billion.
Meanwhile, Alberta Innovates manages 1,300 projects in a portfolio valued at $1.33 billion.