Entrepreneurial Investments

Clean Technology Commercialization Program: WestJet Aviation Biofuel Challenge

The WestJet Aviation Biofuel Challenge is looking for an Alberta small- or medium-enterprise company to provide a demonstration of an Alberta feedstock bioconversion technology strategy, as a first step in building out a consistent supply chain that can be inclusive of multiple feedstocks.

Challenge details

WestJet is looking to develop viable, economical feedstock conversion technologies for the manufacture of aviation biofuel in Alberta, and to pursue further technology development and commercialization. It is recognized that no one feedstock found in Alberta may be available in sufficient quantity to meet the demands of any one airline.

Subsequent fuel certifications and other downstream logistics need be addressed later, but these issues will be similar for all potential technologies under consideration. We highly encourage an overall developmental supply chain strategy that may then seek funding from other sources as applicable.

The WestJet Biofuel Challenge intends to use/develop existing or emerging technologies, using lower cost Alberta biomass, coupled with any other complimentary efficient technologies to scale-up Alberta as a leader in the aviation biofuel industry.

figure 1 – aviation biofuel value chain

Alberta Innovates and partners will contribute up to $2,000,000.00 for demonstration and small-scale production (approximately 10 liters) of:

  • An economical, bioconversion technology(s), that can use Alberta sourced feedstock leading to the production of a sustainable, certifiable, economic drop-in aviation biofuel.

Note: this challenge does not favor any one feed stock or production pathway to achieve a sustainable aviation biofuel.

Challenge Requirements and deliverables

Due to the stringent regulation of aviation fuel and high investment in current jet engine technology as well as the supply infrastructure, the aviation industry wants no solution other than a drop-in fuel alternative to petroleum aviation fuel. Therefore, aviation biofuel technology should fulfil the following requirements to have any significant impact:

  • Flexibility in feed stock processing, as even the same type of feedstock from renewable sources can vary in composition; for instance, vegetable oils can have different levels of unsaturation and acid content.
  • Feed stock supply must be available within Alberta.
  • Should meet aviation fuel (Jet A/A-1) specifications, especially freezing point, thermal stability and energy content.
  • End products should have ability to meet quality and safety requirements, have a path to get ASTM certification/approval.
  • Should be a drop-in replacement for petroleum-based jet fuel and environmentally acceptable.
  • Production, operating, and maintenance costs should be competitive with petroleum aviation fuel.

Please view the recorded information webinar from October 12 here:

Challenge phases

The WestJet Aviation Biofuel Challenge will be rolled out in three stages, with additional details made available as we progress.

Phase I: Expression of Interest

This phase is open to Alberta SMEs and will require applicants to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI). The EOI will be used to evaluate the feasibility of the proposed technology, ensure alignment with the challenge, evaluate the competitive advantage, and assess achievability within a reasonable timeframe.

Phase II: Full Project Proposal

This phase is by invitation only for successful applicants selected from Phase I. In addition to supplemental technical information, applicants will be required to submit business information (financial statements, business plan, five-year pro-forma, management/corporate details), and demonstrate the technology, if applicable).

Phase III: Project Details

This phase is by invitation only, with successful applicants selected from Phase II. Applicants will be required to submit a project plan detailing the development/demonstration of their technology with the industry partner.

Key dates (subject to change please refer to website for updated information)

Item Date
Challenge Launch Oct. 1, 2018
Applicant Webinar (info above) Oct. 12, 2018
Phase I – Submission Deadline Nov. 9, 2018 at 4 p.m. MST
Phase I – Evaluation and Results Notification Nov. 30, 2018
Phase II – Full Proposal Launch Dec. 10, 2018
Phase II – Submission Deadline
Phase II – Evaluations and Results Notification
Phase III – Submission Deadline
Phase III – Results Notification

Key documents

For complete information, including evaluation criteria and much more, see the WestJet Challenge Statement.

For more detailed information about the procedures and policies governing this funding challenge, familiarize yourself with our Clean Technology Commercialization program guide.

Additional information

Stage 1 – Expression of Interest Investment Application Aid

Changes will be announced and posted. Please check back periodically.

Ready to apply?

Click to access the online portal to begin your application. Be sure to select “Clean Technology Commercialization” from the application type drop-down.



WestJet has a strong commitment to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the petroleum-based burning of aviation fuel to operate their airplanes. One of WestJet’s sustainability goals is to decouple its growth from non-renewable resources to renewable sustainable ones. One option is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions using sustainable and affordable drop-in aviation biofuel. While the concept is straightforward, the current high price of production has held back fuel producers to increase the production of aviation biofuel, which must compete with the price of current petroleum derived aviation fuel.

Alberta Innovates

We have a bold ambition to make Alberta the world leader in clean hydrocarbon production, developing environmental technologies that build on natural advantages and that steward natural resources responsibly to achieve a prosperous, environmentally and socially sustainable diversified economy.

Program Contact Information

Name: Luigi Simpatico
Title: Manager, Clean Technology Commercialization
Phone: 780-450-5564
Email: Luigi.Simpatico@albertainnovates.ca

Updated Oct. 11, 2018