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Emissions Reduction Alberta awards $10 million to two projects reducing carbon dioxide emissions

From left: Eric Dunford, Director of Sustainability, CarbonCure Technologies; Saad Dara, Co-Founder and CEO, Mangrove Water Technologies; Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks; Steve Macdonald, CEO, Emissions Reduction Alberta.
From left: Eric Dunford, Director of Sustainability, CarbonCure Technologies; Saad Dara, Co-Founder and CEO, Mangrove Water Technologies; Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks; Steve Macdonald, CEO, Emissions Reduction Alberta.

Two successful projects have emerged from Round 3 of ERA's five-year funding competition, Grand Challenge: Innovative Carbon Uses. ERA is awarding $5 million to Mangrove Water Technologies and $5 million to CarbonCure Technologies to support commercialization of their technologies in Alberta.

ERA launched the $35-million Grand Challenge in 2013 to find the world's most innovative technologies that turn carbon dioxide emissions from a waste stream into valuable products in Alberta. The three-round approach was designed to accelerate unique, promising, and impactful solutions in the emerging field of carbon dioxide utilization.

If successful, these two technologies could deliver emissions reductions of almost 2 million tonnes of CO₂e per year by 2030. All contributions from ERA are required to be matched with private dollars. Funding for the Grand Challenge comes from the carbon price paid by Large Final Emitter (LFE) industrial facilities in Alberta.

"The Alberta-led Grand Challenge supports bold ideas from around the world that will result in meaningful, measurable emissions reductions. The successful projects will create new markets, new economic activity, and new jobs through sustainable technology development and adoption, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for these innovative technologies," said Alberta Minister of Environment and Parks, Jason Nixon.

The Mangrove Water Technologies solution uses CO₂ to turn waste products from oil and gas operations into valuable chemicals, reducing GHG emissions in the oil sands mining industry. This technology will be commercially demonstrated at a Canadian Natural Resources Limited mining site in Alberta. The company estimates an annual market of $450 million across the oil sands mining industry, with GHG reduction potential of 1.4 million tonnes CO₂e per year by 2030.

"The Grand Challenge was a huge success. Round 1 and Round 2 of Grand Challenge allowed us to bring a concept in the lab to a commercial solution. Round 3 funding will allow us to fully commercialize our technology in Alberta and enable Mangrove to export the technology to other markets across the globe," said Saad Dara, Co-Founder and CEO, Mangrove Water Technologies. "The Grand Challenge was a huge success. This announcement is a testament to the Mangrove team's planning and execution over the last 5 years."

CarbonCure's technology injects CO₂ into concrete where it is permanently stored as a mineral. The addition of CO₂ also strengthens the concrete, which allows the industry to achieve production efficiencies and cost savings to offset the cost of the technology. CarbonCure's masonry and ready mix concrete applications are commercially available today, with technology installations at a dozen concrete plants across Alberta. In the final phase of the Grand Challenge, CarbonCure will expand its portfolio and commercialize additional technologies to offer a complete solution across the cement, concrete, and construction industry. With broad market adoption, the technology portfolio could provide an estimated 530,000 tonnes per year by 2030 in Alberta. It is also expected to save 554 million litres of water annually.

"About half of the life cycle emissions of modern buildings is from the manufacturing of materials and construction. CarbonCure repurposes CO₂ emissions from large emitters, like cement or oil and gas, to reduce embodied carbon from buildings and infrastructure by delivering stronger, greener concrete," commented Rob Niven, Founder and CEO, CarbonCure Technologies. "The technology creates significant environmental and economic benefits to Alberta. Winning the Grand Challenge will help us create global solutions that provide reductions in greenhouse gases, freshwater and solid waste; enhance workforce skills transfer and innovations, and position Alberta as a global leader in the circular economy."

ERA's Grand Challenge: Innovative Carbon Uses, an Alberta-led initiative, supported bold ideas from around the world that could result in significant and verifiable GHG reductions. Round 1 saw 24 winners receive seed grants of up to $500,000. In Round 2, four winners advanced, with grants of up to $3 million each.

During each round, projects were subject to a due diligence process and assessed by the Grand Challenge Expert Advisory Panel. The Expert Advisory Panel was comprised of global thought leaders and represented a diverse community of stakeholders and influential bodies. Based on advice from the Expert Advisory Panel, ERA's Board of Directors chose to divide the final award of $10 million into two $5 million commercialization grants.

"Carbon utilization products and processes offer incredible prospects for both new market growth and greenhouse gas reductions. Through the Grand Challenge competition, we called on innovators and technical experts from around the world to focus on breakthrough carbon use technologies that can be commercialized right here in Alberta. ERA's investments like these help innovators develop and demonstrate solutions that can deliver improved environmental and economic outcomes at home and around the world," said Steve Macdonald, CEO, Emissions Reduction Alberta.

"The world needs energy and we must continue to do all we can to make that energy future friendly. Future generations are relying on us to be relentless and resourceful, innovative and ingenious as we surmount one of the biggest hurdles of this century," added Ian MacGregor, Grand Challenge Advisory Panel Member; Chair, Northwest Capital. "The Grand Challenge projects represent the progress possible when we play to our strengths and help transform world-scale industries. With sound science and achievable goals, we can be certain our kids will be proud of the future we're creating."