Pennycress-to-biodiesel plant planned for Alberta

All diesel sold in the province of Alberta, Canada, is to be blended with 2% biodiesel by 2011.

However, Alberta does not produce any biodiesel which can be consumed in cold temperatures, meaning the biofuel will have to be imported.

Planned for northern Alberta is an innovative biodiesel production facility which will convert non-food-grade canola and pennycress into high-quality biodiesel. This easy-to-grow plant can produce biodiesel which performs at temperatures as low as -28°C.

The biodiesel plant, which was designed by TPA, is currently based in Michigan in the US and has been known to process a variety of feedstocks, including animal fats, soyabean, corn and canola.

When it is relocated to Alberta it will manufacture 66 million litres of biodiesel a year. The financing of the project is yet to be finalised but is estimated to be worth over $30 million (€22 million).

The location of the plant has not yet been decided upon but High Prarie, Fort Saskatchewan, Smoky Lane and Waskatenau are being considered.

‘The plant in Alberta will be a complete demonstration of the whole value stream (from harvesting to crushing to refining),’ said the president of TPA James Padilla. ‘We have got to show this to the world.’

‘We bought the equipment and rejigged it to work with all these feedstock oils. And we can reproduce this plant very well and very efficiently,’ Padilla continued.

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