A $5.5M pilot plant to produce NCC (nanocrystalline cellulose) in Alberta has been announced. From the July 5, 2011 news release,
It’s super strong, it’s green and it’s providing new opportunities for business in Alberta. It’s called nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) and Alberta is about to become a leader in its production and study. A new Edmonton-based pilot facility will be the first in Canada to produce the quality of NCC that researchers need to fully explore all its potential applications. [emphasis mine]
The $5.5-million pilot plant, created through a collaboration of the provincial and federal governments in partnership with industry under the Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA), will use wood and straw pulp, like that from flax and hemp, to create up to 100 kg per week of NCC for testing in commercial applications leading to production. [emphasis mine]
Interestingly, there’s no mention of the NCC pilot plant in Québec; my May 31, 2011 posting highlights information about their 3kg/day NCC production, at that time the largest production in the world. So, I’m not sure how the plant in Alberta could be considered the first; it doesn’t seem to have been built yet, plus, that means the Québec plant is still likely to be the largest production facility. (Generally when a new facility built with government funding is opened, there are politicians and pictures. There are no pictures of the Alberta facility.)
Funders for the Alberta initiative include the Government of Alberta and Western Economic Diversification through the Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA) along with Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc., and Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures (AITF)
Regardless of any regional competitiveness, the NCC initiatives both in Alberta and Québec are exciting developments suggesting that the innovation picture in Canada is not quite as bleak as we are sometimes inclined to believe.
One comment, FPInnovations and Domtar (joint venture partners) for the Québec initiative have formed a joint venture NCC company, CelluForce (mentioned in my June 6, 2011 posting).
Finally, I’m not sure how long the website where I found the Alberta news release will keep it available. I have found an alternative although it does not include a backgrounder and appears to have been edited on canadaviews.ca.