Alberta could find itself becoming an international hub for CO2-conversion technology with the federal and provincial governments each pitching in $10 million for a new test facility.
The Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre (ACCTC) will be built at the province’s largest natural gas–fired power plant, the 860-megawatt Shepard Energy Centre in southeast Calgary. The facility will provide up to 25 tonnes/day of CO2 for the finalists in the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE.
The ten finalists to be announced early next year will be able to use the facility to test their inventions at a near-commercial scale. If successful, the technologies would create clean fuels, building materials and consumer products—all from a CO2.
The ACCTC’s design and construction will be led by members of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) and owned and operated by InnoTech Alberta, a subsidiary of Alberta Innovates.
With the XPRIZE and the related test facility, the province is gearing up for the birth of an emerging sector using CO2 as a feedstock. And it’s a sector that holds tremendous promise for both new business opportunities and lowered emissions.
In a November report, A Roadmap for the Global Implementation of Carbon Utilization Technologies, CO2 Sciences says products created from the greenhouse gas could net US$800 billion to US$1.1 trillion by 2030 and capture more than 10 per cent of CO2 emissions in a year. To get there, the report notes, conversion technologies need to be funded, and both the XPRIZE and the ACCTC are steps in doing just that.
“The technology centre here and the sister centre on a coal-fired power plant in Wyoming are really the only places on the planet that are going to be driving rapid innovation forward, enabling those innovators, those technologies, those engineers, those brilliant people to show and prove that we are making this [research and development] possible,” says Paul Bunje, principal and senior energy and environment scientist with the XPRIZE Foundation. “This is going to be the hub of something truly transformative.”