By Stew Slater, Staff reporter
St. Marys Cement is receiving almost $1 million from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario for expansion of the experimental, algae-based emissions-cleansing technology being explored at its St. Marys facility.
“This $908,000 from Fed Dev really helps push things forward with this project,” St. Marys Cement Environment Manager Martin Vroegh told the Journal Argus, in advance of a federal government funding announcement — conducted by Perth-Wellington MP Gary Schellenberger — Wednesday, June 27 in St. Marys.
The algae project began several years ago through a partnership with Toronto-based Pond Biofuels. Two 10,000-litre tanks are currently on site at the St. Marys cement plant, containing a species of algae which has been shown to effectively consume many of the contaminants commonly found in emissions from cement manufacturing facilities.
According to Vroegh, the partners in the St. Marys algae project aim to expand it from what he describes as an “experimental scale” to a “proof of technology” scale.
“We know now that the technology works,” the Environment Manager told the Journal Argus. “But demonstrating technology is different from demonstrating scale. We need to be able to show that the technology will work when it’s put in place in an industrial setting.”
Pending the ability of the partners to come up with the necessary financing (Fed Dev’s contribution will only cover a part of the expansion), Vroegh hopes to see some steps taken towards expanding the project by the end of 2012. A transition to “proof of scale” will entail construction a new building, manufacturing of a much larger system of delivering the emissions, and bringing in a much larger “bio-reactor” tank — possibly as large as 100,000 litres.
“Nobody has ever built anything like this,” Vroegh commented.