I recently had the pleasure of attending the Globe 2016 Expo at the Vancouver Convention Center where several companies had booths set up to share their efforts in developing sustainable technology. I would like to share a few of the companies and technologies that I enjoyed the most!
As part of my courses in university, I toured a few industrial plants around Alberta – my favourite being Enerkem, located in Edmonton. I was excited to see that they had a booth at the Globe conference. Enerkem is a company that takes a portion of the non-recyclable municipal wastes to convert it into bio-chemicals that can be used in products or for energy. To me it sounds like magic!
The Enerkem facility in Edmonton
Waste contains large amounts of organics which, at a landfill, will naturally break down to produce CO2 and methane. When there is too much waste to be contained, an incinerator will be used to burn it, which will produce a lot of CO2. Enerkem’s technology works by gasifying the organic wastes to make what is called syngas, and this syngas can then be run through a reactor packed with catalysts to reform it into biofuels and chemicals.
A landfill, definitely not as nice looking as the recycle plant!
- BioCube Corp
I was interested in the BioCube because it takes the already established technology of making biodiesel and making it more accessible and economically feasible.
Biodiesel is made from a transesterification process where a triglyceride (Perhaps from a vegetable oil) is reacted with an alcohol. A current major problem with biodiesel is that the process to produce it in a big plant is quite energy intensive and takes a lot of infrastructure and transporting of materials, which is exactly what the BioCube was invented to prevent!
Just some plain ol’ biodiesel
The BioCube is a modified 20 foot shipping container that can be used to produce biodiesel. The idea behind the BioCube is that you can ship it to where biodiesel can be used and a feedstock is present. The first BioCube sold went to DR Congo, which allowed them to no longer rely on shipping in diesel oil for their energy needs which cuts down on costs as well as greenhouse gas emissions!
Pongamia seeds, one of the many usable feedstocks
I am a fan of Designergy for the same reason as the BioCube – they take a technology and make it more accessible. Designergy produces a roofing material that integrates a photovoltaic with the necessary insulation and waterproofing needed to be a construction material. Based in Switzerland, Designergy has been participating in the construction scene for roughly 5 years.
My favourite thing about solar energy is that if someone tells you there has been a solar spill, they really just want to say that it’s a gorgeous day. Jokes aside though, solar energy is a fantastic technology to get behind. It does have difficulties, however – such as efficiency, space, and the materials it takes to make them. Companies such as Designergy really pave the way for investors to get behind solar energy, which will hopefully assist us in tackling some of the issues with solar energy and allow us to see a lot more of it in our future!
The lone ranger, powering our future.
By Andrew “Rabbit” May
NVOSAS Vice President