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Converting Emissions into Valuable Agri-Food Product

16 October 2012, at 1:00am

CANADA - An Alberta company has developed an innovative way to grow a useful high-value crop with the use of industrial emissions. Member of Parliament Blake Richards (Wild Rose), on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, announced an investment for SFN Biosystems Inc. (SFN) to continue work on their patented technology that turns raw engine exhaust into a usable algae feedstock.

"Our Government is proud to support innovative projects that help add value to agricultural crops in ways that are both sustainable and environmentally-friendly," said MP Richards. "These types of projects, which identify a need in the marketplace and find solutions to fill that need, will help our agricultural sector grow and remain globally competitive."

SFN has successfully established a full-scale demonstration facility that uses algae to extract up to 90 per cent of CO2 emissions generated by natural gas compression facilities. Algae biomass is considered to be a new and innovative type of agri-food product that has high nutritional content and can be grown at a relatively low cost. The investment of more than $820,000 will help fund further research into optimising algae growth rates leading to more efficient methods of production, yielding the maximum amount of algae with the highest CO2 uptake capacity.

SFN's technology captures CO2 emissions and rejected heat directly from natural gas burning engines for use as primary inputs in closed phytobioreactors - closed structures containing algae, artificial light and nutrient. These structures provide algae with the optimal environment (CO2, light, heat and nutrient) required for algae photosynthesis and algae growth. The algae strains produced contain various levels of lipids, proteins and carbohydrates, making them useful for a number of products, including Omega 3 for vitamin supplementation as well as for other food supplements, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and cosmetics.

SFN's technology will be installed in rural markets on lands immediately adjacent to natural gas compression facilities, which will help create agricultural, manufacturing, and facility operations jobs. The technology offers an environmentally friendly, technologically viable and economically feasible CO2 reduction solution that is safe, effective, and sustainable.

"SFN truly represents a triple win for the energy sector, the agricultural industry, and the environment," said Max Copeland, SFN's co-founder and senior vice-president. "SFN appreciates the grant awarded by the Government of Canada. SFN looks forward to continuing its relationship with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and all levels of government as it moves towards the commercialisation of its technology in the near term."

This project is supported through the Agricultural Innovation Program - a $50-million initiative announced as part of Canada's Economic Action Plan 2011 and part of the Government's commitment to help Canadian producers benefit from cutting-edge science and technology. The Program boosts the development and commercialisation of innovative new products, technologies, and processes for the agricultural sector.

Calgary-based energy producer Encana is also a partner in the project, having invested in the technology in 2010 through its Environmental Innovation Fund. The mandate of Encana's Environmental Innovation Fund is to invest in projects that economically improve the environmental performance of the oil and natural gas sector through developing and implementing innovative technology.

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