Nova Scotia Innovation Hub: Study shows potential for biorefinery

By Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources | February 02, 2017

A new study shows Nova Scotia has strong potential to develop an innovative biorefinery that produces an alternative fuel from renewable sources of fiber.

The liquid biofuel could be used to heat homes and power marine vessels, among other potential uses, according to a study done by Nova Scotia's Innovation Hub, an industrial, applied-research initiative.

The study released Jan. 26 shows that sufficient renewable fiber is generated in Nova Scotia to supply a commercial scale plant producing liquid biofuel. The fiber could come from byproducts produced by forestry operations, such as wood chips and tree bark, as well as from farm crops and municipal solid waste sources.

"Developing a biofuel sector in our province will give us an innovative alternative to fossil fuels and spark economic growth," said Lloyd Hines, Minister of Natural Resources.

"This is an exciting step toward increased competitiveness in the forest sector over the long term."

The Innovation Hub, launched a year ago, is working to attract investors, identify markets, and help government develop supportive regulation.

The goal is to help make Nova Scotia's forestry and resource sectors stronger competitors. CelluFuel, in Brooklyn, Queens Co., is an example of the type of biorefining business the Innovation Hub aims to attract.

Nova Scotia's Innovation Hub is supported with $1.67 million provided by Emera, Government of Canada through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the province.

The Innovation Hub has also made progress in its first year by:

–- completing a study of ways to make transporting harvested trees more efficient and cost-effective, including a review of regulations in comparison with other jurisdictions

–- working with government, to make technology available to forestry companies to install in harvesting machines to help the operator monitor performance and improve efficiency

–- sponsoring 10 Nova Scotians in a machine operator training program to provide world-class instruction on efficient equipment operation. Workers are matched with forestry companies that want to upgrade their competitiveness and agree to hire them upon successful completion of their trainin

"Taking action on climate change and reducing carbon pollution go hand-in-hand with building a strong and sustainable Atlantic economy," said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA. "By working together, we are committed to promoting clean growth, and driving innovation to transition to a low-carbon economy particularly in Atlantic Canada's resources based-industries."

"Emera is pleased to be supporting the Innovation Hub and its research," said Chris Huskilson, president and CEO of Emera Inc. "This type of innovation fits well with Emera's strategy to meet customers' demand for cleaner, more affordable energy and to build the Nova Scotia economy."

The Innovation Hub is led by Bioapplied, a Nova Scotia-based company that specializes in renewable resource innovation, and FPInnovations, one of the world's largest private, non-profit forest research centres. There is more information about the Innovation Hub’s work at http://bioapplied.com/resources/ and http://nshub.fpinnovations.ca