CRIBE grants support Northern Ontario biomass research, projects

By Anna Simet | August 29, 2012

Northern Ontario’s Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy announced it is putting $467,000 toward a partnership with Confederation College in order to build a learning and research facility that will include a biomass fuel testing lab, demonstration space, and a separate 150 KW boiler dedicated to research and learning with associated emissions monitoring equipment.

The Bio-Energy Learning and Research Centre will provide hands-on training to students in the bioenergy field, which CRIBE believes will be integral to the success of many upcoming small to mid-size biomass projects in Ontario.

In particular, the potential impact these projects could have on remote First Nations, mostly off-the-grid communities that are dependent on costly diesel generators. “Nations communities are currently moving forward with plans for small scale biomass power-generation,” CRIBE stated in the funding announcement. “They will now be able to receive training to set up and run these facilities much closer to home.”

CRIBE’s goal for emission monitoring equipment is to provide the Ministry of Environment with much-needed data on smaller-scale projects.

CRIBE said it is also providing $70,839 in funding to Atikokan Renewable Fuels—which has also been working closely with a number of First Nation Communities involved in biomass projects—to begin testing various natural additives to wood pellets to improve their performance in cooperation with Lakehead University. “This funding from CRIBE is really going to help us to do the work to ensure that we can produce a superior pellet,” said Ed Fukushima, president of ARF. “We’ve been working on this for a long time and it is gratifying to see things progressing quickly now.”

"The new Bio-Energy Learning and Research Centre here at Confederation College will help our students become part of a new skilled work force in the emerging field of bio-energy,” said Michael Gravelle, Minister of Natural Resources. “With important hands-on training they will certainly prove invaluable as our government helps the forest industry transition to the new bio-economy. This will benefit a number of upcoming projects, including First Nations' as they become more involved in their own biomass initiatives."

Lorne Morrow, CEO of CRIBE, added that creating a knowledge-based bio-economy hub in Thunder Bay is one of CRIBE’s most important mandate items. “Northwestern Ontario was so hard hit by the downturn in the forest industry; we really needed to refocus on our strengths,” he said.