June 17, 2020

Extracting sustainability from core industries

Paul Pede knows that the resource extraction industry is a strong and important part of Canada’s GDP, and since 2010 he has been working to help forestry, mining, and oil and gas industries remediate their residues and return land and water to its original, natural state. Pede is the President and CEO of Ontario-based Carbonix, an Indigenous-owned clean-tech company.

Since 2013, Carbonix has worked with researchers from Trent University’s Department of Chemistry. They have investigated the conversion of various materials—including petroleum coke, sustainable feedstock and timber scraps—into activated carbon, and to tailor the use of activated carbon as a remedial agent for the treatment of various tailings/waste from extractions. The research has been successful, and Carbonix has developed several IPs around converting materials into activated carbon products.

Interprovincial partnerships

After successfully completing a project with a grant from the Ontario Centre of Excellence (OCE), Pede was introduced to an interprovincial program between the OCE and Alberta Innovates (AI), called the *Alberta-Ontario Innovation program. The program existed to create economic benefits for both provinces through multidisciplinary collaboration resulting in job retention and creation, enhanced productivity and competitiveness, knowledge transfer and industry revenue growth.

“We were starting to make inroads into Alberta and the oil sands industry with some of the producers in Fort Mac (McMurray),” Pede says. “This partnership helped solidify some opportunities.” Alberta Innovates and OCE jointly funded a project between Carbonix and Suncor, which integrated activated carbon products into tailings produced during bitumen extraction. The two-year project included a proof of concept, which demonstrated successful results.

A future business in Alberta

“Because of the project, we’ve subsequently formed a business relationship with Suncor and are in the process of expanding our presence in Alberta with some other companies as well,” Pede says. “The Alberta Innovates and OCE combined project gave us a jumping-off point to really develop our business model and leveraged a lot of ongoing and future work.”

Pede says the project has also allowed Carbonix to pursue business plans of their first-ever, full-scale production facility in Alberta that could treat 40,000 mt of tailings annually and result in 40 to 50 full-time jobs.

“The people at Alberta Innovates were great to work with,” he says. “We are looking to continue working in Alberta.”

The program of support

*The Alberta-Ontario Innovation program brought industry and academia together in cross-provincial collaborations to solve key industry challenges in both Ontario and Alberta through research and development. The goal was to create economic benefits for both provinces through job retention and creation, enhanced productivity and competitiveness, knowledge transfer and industry revenue growth.

The program is managed by Alberta Innovates and the Ontario Centres of Excellence and is now closed.

Alberta Innovates delivers many programs for entrepreneurs, businesses and others. Visit our Entrepreneurial Investments business line to learn more.