Biorefinery construction could begin in 2014

A project nearly five years in the making could finally come to fruition in the new year.

  • Dec. 26, 2013 6:00 a.m.

A project nearly five years in the making could finally come to fruition in the new year.

In 2014, the plan to place a biorefinery plant in Lacombe should be realized as BioRefinex plans to put shovel into ground.

BioRefinex President and CEO Chris Thrall said as a development project, BioRefinex and Lacombe have been working together for at least three years but first starting looking at potentially placing a biorefinery in Lacombe nearly two years before that. He added that he is excited to get construction of the project underway.

“Once we break ground that will be a very important time for us,” said Thrall.

Currently, BioRefinex is finalizing their financing for the project and obtaining the last of the necessary permits to begin construction in Lacombe, said Thrall. He added that come spring, sometime in April or May, BioRefinex hopes to break ground.

When it last appeared before Lacombe City council in May, Thrall said he hoped for the plant to be operational by fall of 2014. Now, that is no longer a possibility and he foresees construction of the plant will take a full year from start to finish.

Lacombe will be the first site for a BioRefinex biorefinery. Once completed, the plant will be an excellent facility to demonstrate how organic waste can be safely treated and turned into valuable products, said Thrall.

Thrall said the Lacombe biorefinery will process organic waste, mostly animal by-products, to produce useable products like dry fertilizer, liquid fertilizer and electricity.

Most of the by-products the plant processes will be obtained from food processors and livestock producers, he added.

BioRefinex uses a process called thermal hydrolysis to produce organic waste.

Thrall said the process destroys all pathogens in the waste and uses no chemicals, making it very environment friendly.

There will also be economic benefits Lacombe may experience because of the plant. One of the most immediate and obvious perks being the jobs the plant will create once constructed.

Thrall said that the biorefinery will also be a major industrial facility that will produce tax revenue for the City and will be seeking to work with a number of local related industries that may be able to benefit from spin offs. He added that the plant will be demonstrating the greenhouse application of food through aquaponics and hydroponics.

Lacombe was chosen as the location for the BioRefinex plant for a number of reasons. It is situated within one of the most diverse and dense regions when it comes to livestock, said Thrall. Cattle, hog and chicken farmers can all be found in the area.

“There is quite a significant source of animal by-products and material within the region,” said Thrall.

Much of the research stage of the project was also done in collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) research station in Lacombe, said Thrall.

He added that plans to continue collaborating with the station in future research were another reason Lacombe was an ideal locale for the biorefinery.

Lacombe’s central location between the Calgary and Edmonton international airports as well as its proximity to Hwy. 2 will make the future plan accessible, said Thrall.