Innovative waste management, industry collaboration turns demolition waste into bioenergy and value-added bioproducts
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada – An Edmonton demolition company has become the site of an innovative, eco-friendly industrial collaboration that is diverting large amounts of waste and converting it into bioenergy and potentially valuable bioproducts.
Alberta Innovates previously invested $5 million into the creation of the All West Bio-Industrial Park (AWBIP), a unique field demonstration involving four companies, located at All West Demolition. The demonstration project is into full mode. It is:
- Diverting an anticipated 18,000 tonnes of demolition wood waste from landfill by end of this year.
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Converting the waste into biogas (syngas) and heat (thermal bioenergy).
- Producing a product called biochar which has numerous potential uses and markets.
AWBIP is also intended to become a bioindustrial accelerator hub in the Edmonton region by providing space and resources that will allow other entrepreneurs and startups to fully validate their technologies, processes and/or products.
This circular economy, clean-tech initiative has just been expanded to include TrustBIX, which announced February 16 it will enhance and apply its digital BIX platform in a commercial pilot program to track the waste inputs at AWBIP for the production of bioproducts. Tracking the source, characteristics and use of various waste streams supports biochar product quality and characteristics, production practices, suitability for specific applications and pricing in various markets. Further, tracking these resources is important to measure the amount of material diverted from landfills, and to quantify the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that result from the production of new products that can be created from these biomass resources.
“Alberta Innovates’ investment into AWBIP is already showing great promise for GHG reduction and diversion of waste from landfill. Moreover, creating a bioindustrial accelerator hub for other entrepreneurs and startups is intended to promote economic diversification and the growth of clean technology in Alberta. We are pleased to see TrustBIX apply its digital platform to track the waste streams being utilized at AWBIP. Traceability is an important step in creating a circular economy that is at the same time eco-friendly and generates new commercial products for the marketplace.”
John Zhou, Vice President, Clean Resources, Alberta Innovates
“We want to be the most environmentally conscious demolition company in the world, and revolutionize demolition and waste-management practices by diverting all waste materials toward useful applications. We are demonstrating our environmental commitment through our leadership role at AWBIP. Wood comprises a huge amount of the waste from demolitions. We are proud that only six months into this project funded by Alberta Innovates, we had already diverted about 75 per cent of the wood waste that we would normally haul to a landfill. We believe we eventually will be able to divert up to 98 per cent of our wood waste by the end of this project in 2021.”
Chris Landry, General Manager, All West Demolition
“Biochar has a tremendous amount of potential. Similarly, innovative waste management practices have a tremendous amount of potential. What IRSI, through this project and in conjunction with Alberta Innovates, All West Demolition, Nelson Environmental and Octoco, has been able to do is create a space to allow for comprehensive solutions to waste management challenges and the commercialization of raw biochar to be realized. I believe, this project exemplifies the path forward for future private/public partnerships by allowing industry to identify the key challenges they need to meet and then securing essential support from the public sector!”
Chris Olson, Owner, Innovation Reduction Strategies Inc.
About the All West Bio-Industrial Park
The site for this unique industrial park is on the property of All West Demolition, a forward-thinking company located in east Edmonton. Several activities are underway at AWBIP including: sorting of waste materials generated by All West Demolition, pre-processing these materials, thermal processing of residual woody biomass (wood debris from demolished buildings), generation of usable thermal energy to heat buildings in the industrial park and to produce quality biochar. There is potential for other bioproducts also to be produced at the industrial park.
Operating on site is Innovative Reduction Strategies Inc. (IRSI), which is producing the bioenergy and biochar with support from Nelson Environmental Remediation and Octoco Inc. The funds contributed by Alberta Innovates have been matched by the consortium of companies listed above.
Through the innovative management of waste streams, All West Demolition and the other participants at AWBIP anticipate they can:
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 20,000 CO2-equivalent offset tonnes per year.
- Increase revenue.
- Divert about 18,000 tonnes of waste from landfill per year.
- Aggregate valuable data.
- Provide a much-needed home for companies in the bioindustrial sector in Alberta.
About the bioindustrial sector and biochar:
The bioindustrial sector is an environmentally friendly sector that uses biomass as a feedstock (e.g., municipal waste, forestry byproducts or agricultural waste) and converts it into value-added products, composites or energy with a wide variety of uses.
Biochar is a porous organic charcoal that is the product of the pyrolysis process, which, in IRSI’s case, is the indirect heating of suitable feedstock to a temperature of approximately 400-450°C in the absence of oxygen for approximately 15 to 30 minutes. Suitable feedstock includes both woody biomass and agricultural crops/residues. Historically, the inhabitants of the Amazonian basin used biochar as a soil amendment, blended with nutrients and microbial life, to produce what is referred to as terra preta. This product allowed these communities to support very large populations on relatively low-quality land. Terra preta is still dug up and used as fertilizers in these regions to this day! Developing industries and applications for biochar include:
- Soil conditioner or amendment
- Food additive
- Source material for graphene production
- Cosmetic applications
- Coal replacement
- Pozzolan replacement for concrete
- Biocomposite additive
- Organic growth medium
- Sustainable insulation additive
- Compost additive
- Air decontaminator
- Humidity regulator
- Pesticide filter
- Medical applications
About the AWBIP partners:
Alberta Innovates invests in research, innovation and entrepreneurship to drive provincial economic growth and diversity. We ignite the power of innovation through our work with researchers, industry and entrepreneurs to move Alberta to a lower-carbon future, promote the responsible use of land and water, and contribute to the improved health and well-being of Albertans. Alberta Innovates provides technical expertise, entrepreneurial advice and support, opportunities for partnerships, and funding to advance the best ideas. We support a broad range of research and innovation activity – from discovery to use. Collaboration is at the heart of what we do – bringing together bright minds and great ideas.
All West Demolition (AWD) is experienced in all aspects of demolition including complete building implosions, building demolition, bridge demolition, plant demolition, high-risk demolition, hazard assessments, and complete hazardous material abatement. Past projects have ranged from small to multi-million-dollar demolitions. Major projects in Edmonton include the dismantling and removal of the old Walterdale Bridge and the BMO building demolition. AWD is an environmentally conscientious company that currently recycles all salvageable waste streams, which reduces the volume of waste they landfill. Furthermore, AWD is keen to work with industry partners to develop new, innovative solutions to further minimize landfill deposits. AWD has been operating in Edmonton since 2009, is a privately held company and currently employs 40+ full-time staff.
Innovative Reduction Strategies Inc. (IRSI) is IRSI’s mission is to reduce residual biomass waste and produce high quality biochar through the scalable application of thermal treatment technologies. IRSI was incorporated in 2014 with the express goal of utilizing pyrolysis technology to reduce residual waste streams in an economically viable way. Through this project, IRSI is positioned to become one of the largest producers of biochar in North America with the next iteration of their technology. IRSI has identified a value chain utilizing clean wood from the waste management sector as well as forestry and lumber industry residuals to produce high quality biochar, syngas, and usable thermal energy as a viable commercialization pathway. Through the last six years of operation IRSI has benefited from building relationships with All West Demolition, Nelson Environmental Remediation, Octoco Inc., as well as Alberta Innovates, the Industrial Research Assistance Program, MITACS, and NSERC.
Nelson Environmental Remediation is an Alberta born and bred company that has grown into a global leader in soil remediation, led by Darryl and Warren Nelson, who in the 1980s succeed their father in the family business. Their Thermal Desportion Units utilize both direct and indirect rotary kiln systems to thermally treat contaminated soils.
Since 1994, Nelson has developed expertise in employing mobile TDU’s for the remediation of contaminated soils and they currently maintain the largest fleet of mobile TDU’s in North America. Many of their upper management staff are approaching 25 years of experience, respectively. Nelson has identified a growing opportunity in environmental stewardship. In the past year they have retained a consulting firm to assist them with assessing their quantifiable GHG offsets and incorporated this into their proposals for prospective projects and clients. This prerogative has led them to explore the prospect of utilizing syngas from the thermal treatment of biomass to fire their TDU’s.
Octoco Inc. is an Alberta advisory firm serving public and private clients with innovation management and finance strategies. Octoco is a member of the Challenge Dialogue System Network, a national network of senior consultants specializing in the use of the Challenge Dialogue System®, a highly effective approach to accelerating diverse stakeholders achieving breakthrough results in performance as they navigate complex challenges. Octoco’s role with the Park is to support the business success of member companies as they achieve new breakthrough’s in bio-industrial innovation.
TrustBIX (TSXV: TBIX) provides agri-food traceability. By addressing consumer and agri-food business demands, the Company has a goal to become the most trusted and largest source of third-party food traceability and sustainability information globally – Gate to Plate®. TrustBIX Inc.’s focus is to create a world where we trust more, waste less and reward sustainable behaviour. The Company’s proprietary platform, BIX (Business infoXchange System), is designed to create trust without compromising privacy through innovative use of data and technology. Extensive R&D has allowed TrustBIX to create a new blockchain-derived technology to complement its mature and proven traceability systems. By leveraging BIX and its unique use of incentive solutions, the Company can deliver independent validation of food provenance and sustainable production practices within the supply chain. ViewTrak Technologies Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary, provides a suite of hardware and software solutions to the livestock industry in Canada, United States, Mexico and China, such as Auction Master Pro, Market Master, Feedlot Solutions and pork grading probes. For more information, visit www.trustbix.com, or follow us on Twitter twitter.com/@TrustBIX_Inc, Facebook at www.facebook.com/BIXSco, or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/bixsco-inc-/.