Canadian Manufacturing

Elkem to build biocarbon pilot plant in Canada

The pilot plant will source raw materials from local sawmills in Canada, including recycled bark, wood chips, sawdust and wood shaves

September 9, 2020  by CM Staff

Elkem to build biocarbon pilot plant in Canada

CHICOUTIMI, Que. — Elkem, a supplier of silicon-based advanced materials, has decided to invest in a new biocarbon pilot plant in Canada. The project aims to secure industrial verification of Elkem’s technology for renewable biocarbon, with a long-term goal of contributing to climate-neutral metal production.

The project has received financial support from the Canadian government, the Québec government and the city of Saguenay, reducing Elkem’s net investment to NOK 60 million. The plant will be constructed near Elkem’s production site in Chicoutimi, Quebec, Canada, with start of construction planned for the second half of 2020. Based on conclusions from the pilot, Elkem will evaluate the basis for a full-scale plant.

“Elkem is one of the world’s leading companies in environmentally responsible manufacturing of metals and materials, and we believe that sustainable production is increasingly a competitive advantage with our customers,” said CEO of Elkem, Michael Koenig in a prepared statement. “With this new biocarbon pilot plant in Canada, we aim to secure long-term access to low-cost, high-quality renewable biocarbon to replace fossil coal, and further improve our competitive position for a sustainable future.”

With the new plant, Elkem will pilot an industrial biocarbon process tailor-made for silicon and ferrosilicon production. Using climate-neutral renewable biocarbon instead of fossil coal as a reduction agent is a key part of Elkem’s sustainable production strategy. Elkem already uses close to 20% biocarbon in its production in Norway and the company is working towards increasing this to 40 per cent by 2030. Elkem sources 83% of its of electricity consumption from renewable energy.

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Elkem also sees a future potential for biocarbon technology to be customised for use in the steel industry, as a replacement for coke as reduction agent. The company is searching for partners for industrialization of the technology.

The pilot plant will source raw materials from local sawmills in Canada, including recycled bark, wood chips, sawdust and wood shaves. This will create new business opportunities within the circular economy and create new green jobs. More than 2 million Green tons (Gt) of potential raw material is already produced within 100 kilometres of the Chicoutimi area in Quebec.

“The Government of Canada continues to invest in emerging clean technologies that support the competitiveness of our forestry sector while creating a clean energy future”, said Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Seamus O’Regan.


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