Natural gas innovations receive funding from Alberta government and Emissions Reduction Alberta
Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to better measure and locate methane emissions, and prototyping new approaches to convert natural gas to hydrogen, are two of 20 technology innovations that will receive funding from the Government of Alberta through Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA).
Alberta's Minister of Environment and Parks, Jason Nixon, and Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity, Dale Nally, announced the finalists of the Natural Gas Challenge with ERA CEO, Steve MacDonald at the opening of the Maximizing Funding Potential Workshop,presented by ERA and Alberta Innovates.
ERA is committing $58.4 million for 20projects worth $155 million. Funding for ERA's challenges comes from the carbon price paid by Large Final Emitters in Alberta through the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund.
"Today's announcement by the Government of Alberta supports investment attraction, job creation, and economic growth. Some projects will have an immediate impact by improving the performance of the natural gas sector's existing operations and others are accelerating transformative opportunities, like hydrogen production, that can change the face of the industry," said Steve MacDonald, ERA CEO.
The Natural Gas Challenge was launched in October 2019 and was open to projects involving technologies at the pilot, demonstration, or first-of-kind commercial deployment stages. ERA's selection committee reviewed 117 submissions and of these, twenty projects were selected based on their potential to unlock innovation across Alberta's natural gas value chain, from production to the end consumer.
"ERA funding is critical to the transformative jump from pilot to market-ready innovation," said Kathleen O'Neil, CEO of Standing Wave Reformers, Inc. "SWR is unique in that it is a novel application based on well-understood, existing components. This allows us to move quickly from lab to market entry in Canada. With ERA's funding and partners, together, we can make a substantial near-term difference in global decarbonization."
Projects announced include:
MultiSensor Canada Inc.
Methane Imaging Solution for Continuous Leak Detection and Quantification for Tank Emissions and Facility Monitoring
Total project value: $3,200,000 | ERA commitment: $1,600,000 Permanent installation and demonstration of an infrared camera at 100 wellsites to provide continuous leak detection and quantification for tank emissions and facility monitoring.
Emissions Reductions Through Artificial Intelligence
Total project value: $16,200,000 | ERA commitment: $4,000,000 Deploymentof an industrial device designed to collect large quantities of data to use artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to better quantify, locate, and classify emissions.
University of Calgary
UCalgary - Canadian Natural Fugitive Emissions Pilot Study: Field-Scale Deployment and Acceleration of Made-In-Alberta Technology for Fugitive Emissions Detection and Reduction
Total project value: $3,200,000 | ERA commitment: $1,600,000 Full-scale, field pilot of a new vehicle-based technology designed for equipment-level emissions screening to support effective regulatory leak detection and repair.
Canadian Natural Resources Limited
Canadian Natural Fugitive Emissions Study Using Aerial Detection Technology
Total project value: $1,900,000 | ERA commitment: $927,000 Pilot project of both aerial screening technology and ground-based detection at conventional oil and gas facilities to validate technology performance and inform a broader Alternative Fugitive Emissions Management Program (FEMP).
Challenger Technical Services
Multi Component Downhole Injection System
Total project value: $2,600,000 | ERA commitment: $1,000,000Development,testing, and validation of a multi component downhole injection system that uses epoxy resins to rapidly seal leaking oil and gas wells and eliminate surface casing vent flow.
Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC)
Affordable Zero-Emission Fail-Safe Electric Dump Valve Actuator (EDVA) Phase2
Total project value: $2,200,000 | ERA commitment: $550,000 Applied research, prototype design and development, and field pilot testing of an electrically-driven valve actuator that is more compact, powerful, and lower maintenance than alternative pneumatic options.
Kinitics Automation Limited
Kinitics Valve Actuator for Gas Producers
Total project value: $1,100,000 | ERA commitment: $552,000 Testing a novel electric actuator at 15 well sites in Alberta to validate the technology as a cost effective, technically viable alternative to eliminate venting from established pneumatic devices.
Westgen Technologies Inc
Unlocking EPOD Economic Zero Bleed Pneumatic Instrument Air Retrofit Solution
Total project value: $4,000,000 | ERA commitment: $1,300,000 Demonstration of a solar-hybrid power generation system for remote well sites to provide reliable electricity to prevent gas venting from pneumatic devices in a cost-effective manner.
Modern Wellbore Solutions
Demonstration of a Full-Scale Multilateral Junction Assembly
Total project value: $12,100,000 | ERA commitment: $3,500,000 Full-scale deployment of a multilateral junction tool assembly that will allow natural gas operators to drill, complete, and operate multibranched wells for unconventional reservoirs. The technology reduces emissions by enabling lateral junctions rather than requiring separate wells.
Tourmaline Oil Corp.
Natural Gas Mobile Unit for Drilling Rig Power Generation
Total project value: $7,989,000 | ERA commitment: $3,200,000 Pilot demonstration of a plug and play, mobile power generation system for drilling rigs that uses smart energy to automatically start and stop generators to match the power demand of the rig.
ATCO Gas and Pipelines Ltd.
Fort Saskatchewan Hydrogen Blending
Total project value: $5,700,000 | ERA commitment: $2,800,000 Pilot project to test hydrogen blending in ATCO's Fort Saskatchewan natural gas distribution system. The project will source and test equipment and determine applicability of existing codes, standards, and legislation.
Ekona Power Inc.
Development and Field Testing of a Tri-Generation Pyrolysis (TGP) System for Low-cost, Clean Hydrogen Production
Total project value: $13,800,000 | ERA commitment: $5,000,000 Prototyping a new approach to converting natural gas to hydrogen and a solid carbon by-product representing a new pathway to produce zero-emissions hydrogen, electricity, and other products by decarbonizing natural gas.
Standing Wave Reformers Inc.
A New Wave in Hydrogen Production
Total project value: $8,200,000 | ERA commitment: $3,000,000 Design optimization, system integration, pilot demonstration,techno-economic analysis, and advancement of commercial deployment plans for a technology system to decarbonize natural gas.
ATCO Gas and Pipelines Ltd.
ATCO and Future Fuel RNG
Total project value: $15,900,000 | ERA commitment:$7,900,000 First-of-its-kind commercial demonstration to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) to be sold and used within the province in Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fleet vehicles and commercial applications.
Co-Locating Natural Gas and Indoor Agriculture for Alberta's Future
Total project value: $17,862,298 | ERA commitment: $5,000,000 Design, construction, and operation for a first-of-kind commercial deployment of a modular farming system that combines automation, hydroponics, adsorption cooling, and advanced lighting to grow crops.
Greenest Natural Gas-Powered Quad-generation with a 41% GHG Reduction
Total project value: $3,800,000 | ERA commitment: $1,800,000 Technology that uses natural gas to generate electricity, cooling, and heating in an integrated package for multiple applications, including industrial, agricultural, commercial, and residential sectors.
Stone Mountain Technologies, Inc.
Demonstration of Thermally Driven Heat Pumps for Residential Heating Applications
Total project value: $1,972,510 | ERA commitment: $986,250 Design and prototyping of technology that uses natural gas to drive a heat pump cycle. Unlike electrically-driven heat pumps, the technology is ideal for cold climates.
Total project value: $6,200,000 | ERA commitment: $2,400,000 Installation and operation of technology that provides clean, distributed electricity from the pressure and flow of natural gas without combustion.
Innovative Fuel Systems
Advanced Dual-Fuel System Commercial Demonstration
Total project value: $2,800,000 | ERA commitment: $1,200,000 Commercial validation of technology that allows heavy duty truck engines to displace up to 50 per cent of their diesel with cleaner burning natural gas.
Converting Landfill Gas to Renewable Natural Gas
Total project value: $25,000,000 | ERA commitment: $10,000,000 The project will explore opportunities to upgrade landfill gas at Clover Bar Landfill and inject it into Alberta's natural gas system as renewable natural gas (RNG). Stakeholders in the Clover Bar Landfill, the City of Edmonton and Capital Power, are exploring these possible opportunities.
If successful, these technology innovations will lead to cumulative GHG reductions of almost one million tonnes of CO2e by 2030—equivalent to the GHG emissions from 750,000 passenger vehicles driven for one year. It is anticipated these projects will also deliver approximately 760 new jobs.
Projects were selected through ERA's competitive review process. A team of experts in science,engineering, business development, commercialization, financing, and greenhouse gas quantification conducted an independent, rigorous, transparent review overseen by a Fairness Monitor.
All recipients are required to produce a final outcomes report that will be shared publicly for the broader benefit of Alberta. All projects involve field piloting, demonstration, or commercial deployment of technology within the province.
To help streamline the application process, ERA collaborated with the Natural Gas Innovation Fund (NGIF) to leverage funding opportunities beyond ERA's scope through NGIF's $3 million Cleantech Competition. NGIF announced its semi-finalists on June 23, 2020. Six of ERA's Natural Gas Challenge winners—Kinitics Automation, Westgen Technologies Inc., Challenger Technical Services, Ekona Power Inc., Modern Wellbore Solutions, Standing Wave Reformers—were announced as shortlisted for NGIF's funding competition.