Bitumen Beyond Combustion (BBC)


Join us for an introduction to Bitumen Beyond Combustion webinar on Tuesday, October 30, 2018, from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. MST.

This interactive and engaging session will offer a broad overview of the recent BBC study, Bitumen Beyond Combustion – Phase 2 Report, conducted by Stantec Consulting for Alberta Innovates which addresses the potential for using bitumen as inputs to non-combustion products.

Speakers will recap phase 1 of the -initiative and expand on some key aspects such as understanding Oil Sands and bitumen characteristics, the participants, methodology, analysis, product selection, and overarching conclusions. The session will welcome questions and comments from the audience and conclude with a sneak peek of webinar 2 – Carbon Fibres & Uses (November 29th 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. MST)

Register here.

Read the article on CBC Calgary.

Open Call 2018 – Expressions of Interest (EOI)

Bitumen Beyond Combustion

High-value, Large-scale Non-Combustion Products from Oil Sands Bitumen


Alberta Innovates is a catalyst for innovation. As a Government of Alberta corporation and consistent with Government priorities, Alberta Innovates supports research and innovation that lead to economic diversification, enhanced environmental performance, and social well-being.

Specifically, Alberta Innovates is furthering the development of non-combustion products and their production technologies, derived from bitumen contained in Alberta’s extensive oil sands. The latter are amongst the world’s largest hydrocarbon resources, with proven reserves of approximately 180 billion barrels. At present, most bitumen products (such as gasoline, diesel, and heating oil) are destined for energy generation by combustion.

The ‘Bitumen Beyond Combustion (BBC)’ Project has been created with goals to:

  • diversify the uses of oil sands bitumen, resulting in high-value, large-scale non-combustion products that can be made by or in partnership with Alberta’s oil sands industry
  • accommodate increasing bitumen production in Alberta, by creating new and/or expanded markets for bitumen and bitumen-derived products
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with bitumen
  • offset potential lessening in the demand growth of bitumen, resulting from factors that include increased global oil supplies, environmental concerns about the use of oil-based fossil fuels, energy conservation, and electrification of transportation

The BBC Project focuses on large-scale non-combustion products and their production technologies that are:

  • technically and commercially viable now or can become so
  • competitive with or superior to existing products and production technologies
  • large-scale, requiring at least 100,000 barrels of bitumen per day (bpd) by 2030
  • contributing to Alberta’s prosperous, environmentally and socially sustainable diversified economy.

Alberta Innovates, supported by representatives of some of Canada’s major oil sands producers and chemical companies, governmental agencies, and research organizations, commissioned two backgrounds studies on the challenges of identifying, manufacturing, and marketing non-combustion products from oil sands bitumen. Several possibilities were identified. Several possibilities were identified in the Phase 1 and Phase 2 reports. The BBC opportunity was also highlighted in the Feb 2018 report by the Economic Diversification Advisory Council (EDAC).

General Scope of Work

Through the BBC Open Call 2018, Alberta Innovates is making available up to $2 million over two years and invites proposals that build on and extend the findings of the previous studies by

  • producing and characterizing (based on laboratory and other small-scale practical work) previously identified BBC products and demonstrating their production technologies, thereby establishing their functional competitiveness
  • validating technical, logistical, market, or other solutions to enable accelerated commercialization of BBC products
  • assessing the business, marketing, energy, environmental, and greenhouse gas (GHG) issues related to BBC products and their production technologies

Previously identified products include, but are not restricted to: carbon fibres and carbon fibre-concrete, -wood, and -plastic composites; solid asphalts and asphaltenes; vanadium and quinone electrolytes for electricity storage systems; biodegradable / compostable polymers / plastics. Consistent with Open Calls, proponents may suggest other products and production technologies that meet BBC project criteria. General knowledge gaps that require addressing include:

  • Production technologies
  • Performance characteristics of products
  • Competitiveness of products and production technologies
  • Scale-up issues and parameters
  • Market size and uptake
  • Environmental and social implications

Further details of knowledge gaps are listed here.

The potential global market for each product should, in aggregate, positively impact at least 100,000 bpd (barrels per day) bitumen. The market potential may arise from the expansion of existing markets and/or the creation of new markets. While the full market potential may not be reached until 2030, products and production technologies with high near-term market potential are of great interest.

Proponents may focus on one or more products or production technologies. If several unrelated products and production technologies are proposed, separate proposals may be submitted.

Program Guide

The Program Guide contains detailed information regarding eligibility, scope, and other matters.

EOI Submissions

Proposals must be submitted using the Expression of Interest Form. Proponents of EOIs that meet the Open Call criteria will be invited to submit full proposals.


June 8, 2018 (2 PM MDT) EOI submission deadline
June 29, 2018 Notification of successful EOI proponents and invitation of Full Project Proposals
September 4, 2018 (2:00 p.m. MDT) Full Project Proposal deadline
November 2018 Announcement of funded projects

Program Contact Information

Name: Bryan Helfenbaum
Title: Executive Director of Advanced Hydrocarbons, Clean Energy division – Alberta Innovates
Phone: 403-297-4375