EDMONTON, ALBERTA, December 6, 2023 – Alberta Innovates and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) are announcing the successful projects in Phase III of the Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge (CFGC). Over $15.2 million is being made available to five teams to refine and scale-up their carbon fibre production technologies.

One of the Phase III CFGC recipients is Edmonton-based Thread Innovations Inc. Dr. Weixing Chen and his team at Thread Innovations Inc. are looking at novel ways to convert bitumen from Alberta into high-value carbon fibre, using vacuum refinery residue-derived and asphaltenes-based precursors.

The five successful projects are based in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, and they are competing to produce carbon fibre from Alberta bitumen. They must demonstrate the ability to produce between 0.5 – 1 kilogram of carbon fibre per day using technology that will allow them to scale to more than 5,000 tonnes of carbon fibre per year by the early 2030s. As part of the competition, the commercial carbon fibre must cost 50 per cent less expensive than current carbon fibre products.

13 applications were received for Phase III of the carbon fibre grand challenge, launched earlier this year. The competition was open to technology developers, industry – including small, medium and large size enterprises, industry associations, research and development (R&D) organizations, post-secondary institutions, not-for-profit organizations, and government research labs. A team of experts was able to select the best projects to move forward. The successful candidates will have 36 months to complete their projects.


“Carbon Fibre is a significant opportunity for Alberta to diversify our economy. Accelerating innovation in this field is the first step to unlocking enormous value for the benefit of all Albertans.”

- Nate Glubish, Minister of Technology and Innovation

“Alberta is a place of industry visionaries eager to bring their amazing emissions-reduction ideas to life, and this funding shows just how aligned our innovation system is when it comes to advancing transformative technologies that lead to future materials and markets. Alberta is proud to support these projects, which will help create demand for Alberta bitumen.”

- Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas

“Producing carbon fibre from Alberta bitumen creates opportunities for the energy industry. As we transition away from burning bitumen as a fuel, Alberta is well positioned to lead this next frontier. We’re proud to be a driving force behind this novel technology and we can’t wait to see what comes next.”

- Laura Kilcrease, CEO, Alberta Innovates

“It takes more than good ideas to commercialize and deploy new technologies that reduce emissions and grow the economy. ERA is pleased to support game changing technologies that will lead to future materials, energy systems, and markets with funding from the Government of Alberta, and in collaboration with our partners in the innovation system.”

- Justin Riemer, CEO, Emissions Reduction Alberta

“Alberta’s advantage is our entrepreneurship, strong workforce, and a government committed to leading our province into a diversified economy. Funded through Alberta Innovates and in collaboration with Emissions Reductions Alberta, the Bitumen Beyond Combustion Program is a working example of how we can leverage our vast Alberta oil sands into innovative products that will drive Canada’s future.”

- Tony Loria, Board Chair, Thread Innovations Inc.


Successul Projects:

Institution Applicant Project Title Alberta Innovates Funding Emissions Reduction Alberta Funding Total
Carbomat Md Golam Kibria Process Development for Transforming Alberta’s Asphaltenes into High-value Carbon Fibers: Performance Improvement, Scale-Up, and Product Development $2,522,370 $1,279,630 $3,802,000

Enlighten Innovations Inc

Michael Zenaitis Carbon Fibre from Desulfurized Alberta Asphaltenes $1,053,000 $947,000 $2,000,000

NORAM Engineering & Constructors Ltd.

James Lockhart Low Temperature Stabilization and Bulk Processing Techniques for the Production of Lower-Cost Asphaltene Based Short Carbon Fibres $1,440,000 $0 $1,440,000

Thread Innovations

Weixing Chen Pre-Commercial Production of Carbon Fibre and Carbon Fibre Products Using Alberta Bitumen Vacuum Refinery Residue-Derived and Asphaltenes-Based Precursors $1,000,000 $3,000,000 $4,000,000

University of British Columbia

Yasmine Abdin Development of lower-cost high-value carbon fibres from Alberta bitumen derived feeds $2,600,000 $1,400,000 $4,000,000
    Total $8,615,370 $6,626,630 $15,242,000

The Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge is directed towards funding the development of technologies that can convert Alberta oil sands asphaltenes into carbon fibre. Alberta Innovates was the sole funder for Phase I and worked with partners to support Phases II and III of the Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge. The Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN) was a co-funder of Phase II and Emissions Reduction Alberta is a co-funder of Phase III.

Full Phase III program details can be found on the Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge website.

Alberta Innovates manages nearly 1,300 projects in a portfolio valued at $1.33 billion. We work with innovators in all sectors of the economy and all corners of the province to drive entrepreneurship, applied research and industry development. With our impact-based funding programs and services, we are transforming energy systems for a net-zero world, promoting the responsible use of land and water, leveraging provincial strengths in agriculture, and contributing to improved health and well-being by harnessing digital tech and data. We are also advancing emerging technologies and strengthening entrepreneurship for a strong and diversified economy. We operate in 11 locations with more than one million sq. ft. of industrial testing and lab facilities, and 600 acres of farmland. We employ nearly 600 highly skilled scientists, business and technical professionals. From funding to commercialization, we are Alberta’s innovation engine! See what entrepreneurs say about our coaching and support. Learn how Alberta Innovates.

For 14 years, ERA has been investing revenues from the carbon price paid by large emitters to accelerate the development and adoption of innovative clean technology solutions. Since we were established in 2009, we have committed $887 million toward 254 projects worth $7.7 billion that are helping to reduce GHGs, create competitive industries and are leading to new business opportunities in Alberta. These projects are estimated to deliver cumulative GHG reductions of 40 million tonnes by 2030 and 110 million tonnes by 2050. Find out more about ERA.