A startup that is using carbon nanotubes to increase the conductivity of aluminum and a lignin recovery project at an Alberta pulp mill owned by forestry giant West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. (TSX:WTF) are among the 10 B.C. companies or demonstration projects receiving $27 million in funding through Sustainable Development Canada (SDTC).
The funding was announced March 16 in Richmond by National Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay, who said the Canadian clean-tech industry is worth $11 billion, employing 41,000 people.
The latest financing announcements are part of $325 million in funding announced in 2013 for SDTC over an eight-year period. In the past, B.C. has attracted more than its fair share of SDTC funding, thanks to a convergence of high-tech and natural resource sectors.
“B.C. is undoubtedly a center of clean-tech innovation and something we’ve been supporting for some time,” Findlay said.
Of the 10 projects receiving SDTC funding, three are technologies with applications in the oil and gas sectors.
The SDTC technology review process is so rigorous that venture capitalists view it as a valuable derisking exercise, and private venture capital often follows SDTC funding.
Switch Materials Inc., which also received SDTC funding in 2011, is receiving $2.5 million in new funding. Switch Materials CEO Doug Wiggin said the kind of materials science his company is involved in takes many years to develop.
“It’s difficult to get funding just by venture capital,” Wiggin said. “So the support of a program such as SDTC, which leverages that venture capital money, is extremely critical.”
Switch Materials is in the process of commercializing a special window glazing for the rooftops of vehicles, which can be turned off or on, and which can reduce the heat inside the vehicle, reducing the amount of fuel consumed for air conditioning.
Of the 10 B.C. companies or projects approved for SDTC funding, the $6.1 million going to West Fraser is the single largest.
That funding will go toward a lignin recovery project at one of its pulp mills in Hinton, Alberta. Liginin from wood can be used to replace petroleum based resins.
Other recipients of SDTC funding are:
• $3.7 million, BBCP Conductor Inc., which is using carbon nanotubes to increase conductivity in aluminum to reduce heat resistance in wiring;
• $3.2 million, David Bromley Engineering Ltd., for its nanoflotation technology for water treatment in the oil and gas industry;
• $3 million, Carbon Engineering Ltd . towards a $4.5 million demonstration plant in Squamish to develop technology that takes carbon dioxide from the air for use in enhanced oil recovery;
• $2.9 million, ZyncNyx Energy Solutions for a zinc-based fuel cell for industrial-scale renewable energy storage;
• $2.5 million, Saltworks Technologies Inc ., for water treatment technology in steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) extraction in the Alberta oil sands;
• $1.9 million, Terramera Inc ., for the commercialization of its neem-oil based pesticide for the agriculture;
• $1.1 million, Polymer Research Technologies , to help commercialize polyurethane foam recycling technology; and
• $344,217, Unit Electical Engineering Ltd., which is developing lighter more efficient propulsion systems for rain transit systems.