EDMONTON, Alberta, (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Using drones to help reforest remote boreal environments. Reducing methane emissions from cattle by up to 90 percent through feed additives. Leveraging artificial intelligence to optimize energy usage at a pulp mill. These are three of 17 technology innovations that will receive funding from the Government of Alberta through Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA).

Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks, Jason Nixon, announced the winners of the Food, Farming, and Forestry Challenge with ERA CEO, Steve MacDonald, on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at ERA’s Lessons Learned Workshop and SPARK Speaker Series online event.

ERA is committing $33 million for 17 projects with a combined value of $107 million in public and private investment. Funding comes from the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund and supports innovation in the agriculture, agri-food, and forestry sectors. If successful, these technology innovations will lead to cumulative GHG reductions of up to 2.7 million tonnes of CO2e by 2030.

“Agriculture and forestry are critically important to the economy of Alberta. This investment, driven by the TIER regulation, will help advance innovative processes and technologies to support the province’s bioeconomy and reduce emissions. Its builds on Alberta’s historical strengths in agriculture, forestry, and land use.”
Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks, Government of Alberta

“Agriculture and forestry were bright spots in our economy in 2020 and will continue to drive our economic recovery into 2021. This support for our foresters will ensure that our industry, through innovation, remains competitive and sustainable. It will also support our farmers and ranchers who grow high-quality, safe food for not only Alberta families, but for families all around the world. This $33 million investment will help Alberta meet the demands of a growing population in both an economically efficient and environmentally sensible way.”
Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Government of Alberta

”Alberta’s food, farming, and forestry sectors are critical to achieving Alberta’s economic and environmental goals and their innovative capacity is world-class. The projects announced today will create jobs, attract investment, open new markets and deliver it all with improved environmental performance.”
Steve MacDonald, CEO, ERA

A total of 150 applications were received requesting a total of $383 million for projects worth $1.5 billion. From the 17 approved projects, four are categorized as natural solutions, seven are in the bioindustry and bioenergy sector, and six projects are in the agriculture and agri-food sector.

These technologies are at the pilot, demonstration, or first-of-kind commercial deployment stage of development. They include:


Cenovus Energy Inc.
Linear Restoration Equipment Modernization and Deployment 
Total project value: $1,800,000 | ERA commitment: $890,000
Provide industry with more effective tools to remediate linear disturbances in the boreal and foothill forests of Alberta created by the geophysical exploration for oil and gas.

Saltworks Technologies Inc.
GHG Saving and Internationally Scalable Ultra High Recovery Industrial Wastewater Treatment at an Albertan Agri-Chem Facility
Total project value: $9,500,000 | ERA commitment: $2,600,000
Treat and reuse industrial wastewater to avoid land-spreading and/or use of disposal wells.

West Fraser
Product and Production Innovations for Using Alberta’s Surplus Poplar to Enhance Carbon Sequestration 
Total project value: $1,600,000 | ERA commitment: $500,000
Develop and test a novel process for making oriented strand board and engineered strand-based products. The new materials will utilize Alberta’s surplus poplar resource. 

Flash Forest
Commercial Pilots and Demonstrations of Rapid Drone Reforestation Technology
Total Project value: $5,450,000 | ERA commitment: $1,800,000
Utilize drone reforestation technology and hardware, aerial mapping software, automation, and biological seed pod technology to reforest boreal areas at a rapid pace.


Steeper Energy Canada Ltd
The Conversion of Forestry Residue to Advanced Biofuels in Alberta 
Project value: $12,610,000 | ERA commitment: $5,000,000
Convert waste biomass from forests and fields into a biocrude with lower oxygen and water content compared to other biocrudes.

Korova Feeders Ltd. 
New Production System 
Project value: $20,350,000 | ERA commitment: $5,000,000
New productive system and standard for feedlot anaerobic digestion and waste management.

Sustainable Nanofiltration Technology for Vegetable Oil Refining 
Project value: $3,600,000 | ERA commitment: $1,800,000
Transformative technology for separation and filtration applications in the food sector and beyond.

RNG from Pulp Mill Waste 
Project value: $18,670,000 | ERA commitment: $5,000,000
Produce valuable renewable natural gas from the pulp mill’s wastewater treatment anaerobic digestor.

Bio-sourced asphalt from the Canadian forest industry 
Project value: $1,250,000 | ERA commitment: $350,000
Developing a bitumen-lignin asphalt formulation to be used in the paving industry.

Blindman Brewing 
Brewery GHG reduction
Project value: $200,000 | ERA commitment: $102,000
Adopt a CO2e capture and reuse technology in its fermentation process to reduce GHG emissions.

Millar Western Forest Products Ltd. 
Application of Artificial Intelligence at Pulp Refiners to Optimize Energy Usage and Product Quality 
Project value: $1,460,000 | ERA commitment: $730,000
Use a Pulp Expert System (PES) driven by artificial intelligence (AI) at the refining stage of the pulping process to reduce energy consumption and improve product quality. 


Synergraze Inc. 
Cattle Feed Additive for Reducing Methane Emissions 
Project value: $15,000,000 | ERA commitment: $5,000,000 
Commercially grow and process a feed additive for cattle based on a strain of red macroalgae (Asparagopsis) that could potentially reduce methane emissions from cattle.

Livestock Water Recycling, a division of IWR Technologies Ltd. 
Achieving on-farm carbon neutrality through the datafication of waste 
Project value: $1,370,000| ERA commitment: $650,000
Use a technology (known as PLANT) to transform paunch manure into two distinct natural fertilizers, reducing on-farm methane emissions by up to 82 per cent in cattle processing.

Optimal Agricultural Equipment Ltd. 
Project value: $1,500,000 | ERA commitment: $638,000
Develop a dual-purpose grain cart/seed tender unit for the grain farming industry. This unit is suitable for use as a grain cart in the fall during harvest season and as a seed tender cart in the spring to deliver seed and fertilizer to a seeding tool.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada 
Impact of genomics-enhanced whole herd genetic management platform on reducing beef GHGs
Project value: $5,500,000| ERA commitment: $490,000
Develop and demonstrate a genomics enhanced whole herd management platform for the beef industry.

Ceres Solutions Ltd. 
Use Ag waste and craft brewer’s grain to grow high-value mushrooms and produce livestock feed
Project value: $2,000,000 | ERA commitment: $500,000
Use agricultural by-product (spent brewer grain which would have gone to land fill) as a growing media for specialty mushroom production in a containerized system and use the leftover substrate after mushroom harvesting (called Mycopro) as cattle feed. 

Horseshoe Power 
Doef’s Greenhouses CO2e and Heat Capture 
Project value: $5,100,000| ERA commitment: $2,000,000
Construct a 13-acre hydroponic vegetable greenhouse, co-located with a natural gas field, and heat it using waste heat from the adjacent natural gas-fired tri-generation (electricity, heat, and CO2e) power plant. 

“ERA funding is essential in promoting ongoing innovation in the forest industry. By enabling investment in novel technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence, ERA will help us to make higher-value products that better meet the needs of international customers, and to keep pushing the boundaries of technological advancement in Alberta. Most important, it will help us optimize the use of critical inputs like energy, fibre, and chemicals, and further reduce our carbon footprint.”
David Anderson, President, and CEO, Millar Western

“Breweries are perfect candidates for CO2e capture and utilization because we both produce and use CO2e in-house. We are beyond excited to partner with Emissions Reduction Alberta in bringing technology to Canada for the first time ever to allow us to create this loop. This is the future and with ERA and our great project partners, we intend to prove the robust financial benefits of the tech so that the 1,100 breweries in Canada adapt it as well and we make a real GHG impact.”
Kirk Zembal, Co-Founder, Blindman Brewing

“ERA is driving innovation that preserves and protects Alberta’s industries and the environment. An important Albertan agri-chemical producer and Saltworks will collaborate with ERA to install the world’s first commercial-scale low energy wastewater treatment plant that will recycle, refine, and re-use wastewater at over 98 percent recovery. ERA’s funding builds on a successful pilot, enabling this important first commercial installation of technology that decarbonizes Alberta’s essential industries while making clean water.”
Dr. Pierce Maguire, Technology Specialist, Saltworks Technologies

“Flash Forest is thrilled to partner with Emissions Reduction Alberta for a multi-year expansion of drone reforestation efforts in Western Canada. In addition to the many environmental benefits, this funding enables, it supports the creation of an Alberta-based Centre of Excellence, provincial up-skilling and hiring programs, and a potential production hub for Western Canada. We anticipate Flash Forest’s unique drone and seed pod technology’s successful application will significantly drive down tree planting costs while driving up provincial regeneration efforts.”
Cameron Jones, COO, and Co-founder, Flash Forest

“ERA’s funding accelerates Synergraze’s ability to get our feed additive to cattle producers. It will help advance the technology through to early commercial scale production. Our feed additive reduces methane emissions from cattle by approximately 90 percent. Alberta cattle producers will gain access to a product that will enhance competitiveness and greatly reduce GHG emissions as a result of ERA’s financial support.”
Tamara Loiselle, CEO and Founder, Synergraze

“ERA’s financial support allows West Fraser to undertake the development of an innovative wood product. Wood is 50 percent carbon, so giving consumers alternatives made from wood is an effective method of sequestering additional carbon. ERA’s funds will go towards testing a new method of making a high-value product from under-utilized deciduous trees. In this way, we are both helping to diversify Alberta’s economy and making the best use of the forest resource.”
Rob Spring, Senior Engineer, West Fraser

Projects were selected through ERA’s competitive review process. A team of experts in science, engineering, business development, commercialization, financing, and greenhouse gas quantification conducted an independent, rigorous, transparent review overseen by a Fairness Monitor. All recipients are required to produce a final outcomes report that will be shared publicly for the broader benefit of Alberta.

See more HERE.