Toronto biodiesel facility proposed

By Bryan Sims | November 17, 2010
Posted Dec. 15, 2010

With support from Invest Toronto, Energy Innovation Corp. has proposed to repurpose an 8,600 square-foot building into a biodiesel production facility with an initial annual output volume of 5 MMly (about 1.3 MMgy). Located in the downtown core in the port lands area, the future facility will be located on a site with existing ship, truck and rail transportation infrastructure that could be leveraged for feedstock sourcing and biodiesel marketing.

According to Patrick Dwyer, EIC vice president of communications, the company is shooting for full operation by spring 2011. Locally grown flax seed initially would be the feedstock of choice for the planned facility. Utilizing a hybrid continuous flow/batch system, the company plans to extrude the flax seed into oil for biodiesel production and take the remaining meal for use as animal feed, or have it further milled into flour to be sold in the Ontario food market, according to Dwyer.

"Everyone said you can't grow flax in Ontario," Dwyer said, adding that, through a partnership already established with an area farmer, EIC would have access to about 1,200 acres of flax. "We said we don't think that's true. Areas not too far from us used to be known as the flax capital of Canada 100 years ago before people started moving out to the prairies and different crops started to replace flax. We're looking to bring flax back and grow it ourselves or through partnerships."

In addition to flax, EIC intends to use locally collected coffee grounds as feedstock. "The feedstock has to be viable and it can't just be a waste feedstock," Dwyer said. "It has to have value-added market potential." Potential customers for EIC's biodiesel are expected to be municipalities, fleet users or waste management companies.

The proposed biodiesel production facility in Toronto will be privately funded and is one of eight similarly-sized projects planned in the next four to five years by EIC, according to Dwyer. He noted that EIC decided to deploy a string of small to mid-sized production facilities rather than building one large production plant because, "we don't want to run into the economic problems of having a large facility and having to find massive amounts of feedstock to keep it running and profitable," he said.

According to the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, as of November 4, Canada houses 12 operating biodiesel plants with a combined installed capacity of 200.9 MMly. In 2011, the country's demand will expand to over 650 MMly to meet projections based on the Canadian government's new regulation requiring diesel fuel and heating oil to contain at least a 2 percent biodiesel blend.

According to Dwyer, "We're going to be in a weird deficit relationship between Canada and the U.S. in that we'll be one of the U.S.'s largest exporters of fuel from the oil sands, but we'll end up in a situation where we'll have to import our own renewable fuel like biodiesel. One of the impetuses for creating this company was to sort of balance out this trade deficit."
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