New technology revolutionizes soil remediation

Nov 5, 2018

An Alberta company is set to revolutionize the remediation of hydrocarbon-contaminated soil and other solids

AGES Thermal Processing Corporation has developed a patented technology to not only remove hydrocarbons but also recover them as usable byproducts.

The technology is called thermal desorption and involves heating soil or other solids to over 450°C. Unlike incineration, thermal desorption produces recoverable and resellable byproducts. While thermal desorption technology dates back to 1985, AGES is the first company to achieve hydrocarbon recapture with thermal desorption.

AGES’ first commercial scale unit was unveiled in September 2018 with the support of industry partner Tero Oilfield Ltd. The unit can process 96 tonnes of contaminated material per day. It has the ability to generate about $400,000-$700,000 in monthly revenues from the recovered hydrocarbons. Depending on the type of contamination, the treated waste should satisfy the Canadian Soil Quality Guideline for agricultural land use.

Technology development took AGES about seven years. A very strong entrepreneurial commitment was required to successfully navigate unexpected pivots and turns. Darrell Greenman, AGES President & CEO, noted that both Alberta Innovates and the National Research Council have been some of his company’s “biggest and longest running backers. None of this would have been possible without their guidance and support.”

Alberta Innovates has been involved with AGES from the earliest stages, providing support at key points in its commercialization journey. This includes a voucher ($100,000) to help with bench testing, a Commercialization Associate ($124,000) to strengthen their team for commercial scale-up, and Product Demonstration Program funding ($300,000) that resulted in the manufacture of the first commercial scale unit.

Terry Rachwalski, Alberta Innovates’ Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Investments, noted that “the success that AGES has achieved is an example of what true Albertan ingenuity is all about. It’s a real indication that dedicated management and a supportive community ecosystem are as equally important as strong financials and market fundamentals. We look forward to AGES’ next phase of growth and success.”