QUEBEC—The federal government has doled out $25 million in funding to four clean technology projects in Quebec through Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), including $12.87 million for an electric vehicle (EV) battery pilot demonstration project.
The SDTC funding, issued through the SD Tech Fund, will support four cleantech projects in the province, including Nemaska Lithium Inc.’s lithium hydroxide hydromet plant, a pilot demonstration aimed at cutting costs associated with EV battery production and use.
“Today’s batteries are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and battery manufacturers typically take up to 12 months to qualify a new supplier of lithium hydroxide,” Nemaska Lithium president and CEO Guy Bourassa said in a statement released by his company.
“By building the (demonstration) in advance of the commercial hydromet plant and lithium mine we expect to be qualified suppliers before we are in full production.”
The demonstration plant is designed to produce 500 tonnes per year of high purity lithium hydroxide.
Nemaska said it will use the facility to demonstrate its proprietary lithium hydroxide technology and produce commercial samples as it looks to secure off-take agreements ahead of launching its lithium mine and commercial hydromet facility.
Also receiving financing through the SD Tech Fund is Orbite Aluminae Inc., a Saint-Laurent, Que.-based cleantech firm working in the mining and metals sector.
Orbite will receive $4.5 million in federal funding as it continues to develop its red mud treatment process.
The process, which Orbite was granted a patent allowance for in January, uses red mud, waste generated during bauxite refining, as a feedstock.
Orbite said the process extracts “valuable constituents,” including rare earths and rare metals, alumina, magnesium oxide and titanium dioxide, while returning a small amount of inert material.
“We are pleased with the support and recognition from SDTC for this potentially groundbreaking application of our technology,” Orbite chief executive Glenn Kelly said in a release from his firm.
“The funding will allow us to accelerate the development of our waste monetization initiative. With some three billion tonnes of red mud stored worldwide and an additional 120 million tonnes being produced annually, as well as well over 500 million tonnes of fly ash being produced annually, waste monetization represents a very significant commercial opportunity for Orbite that the company is now gearing up for.”
Montreal-based CelluForce Inc. will also receive SDTC funding as it develops a process to extract nanocrystalline cellulose from dry wood pulp, and Calgary-based Fractal Systems Inc. will receive $3.7 million from the federally-supported agency “to facilitate the bitumen reduction process and lower the cost of transporting the product.”
CelluForce said nanocrystalline cellulose “is a fundamental building block of trees” that can be extracted and used in a host of applications, including: biocomposites for bone replacement and tooth repair; additives for foods and cosmetics; improved building and paper products, including advanced packaging and high-strength spun fibres and textiles; additives for coatings, paints, lacquers and adhesives; reinforced polymers and bioplastics; and aerospace and transportation structures.
Measured in units as small as nanometres, the tiny nanocrystalline cellulose structures have strength properties comparable to steel, according to CelluForce.
The company said its project will improve the extraction process, and “investigate additional applications for the oil and gas industry.”
Natural Resouces Minister Greg Rickford, who announced the SD Tech Fund financing, also announced a combined $4.5 million in financing for two Quebec-based projects through the ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative (ecoEII).
TM4 Inc. will receive $3.74 million as it develops low-cost wheel motors for electric and hybrid vehicles, and L’Institut de recherche d’Hydro-Quebec (IREQ) will receive $800,000 as it explores the potential for deep geothermal electricity production for Quebec and Atlantic Canada.