Ag-West Bio leads Saskatchewan study to evaluate feasibility of developing crops and processing for bio-jet fuels

( September 22, 2011 )

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Saskatoon,SK: With the aviation industry looking for sustainable fuel alternatives, the development of bio-jet fuels appears to hold great potential for Saskatchewan, a province known for its high-quality oilseed production. Ag-West Bio Inc. is leading a study to determine the economic feasibility of developing this industry in Saskatchewan.

The two crops showing the most promise are Camelina sativa (camelina) and Brassica carinata (carinata). Based on these crops, three key commercial activities critical for developing a sustainable business will be evaluated:

1. Production of dedicated industrial oilseed crops – camelina and carinata.  
2. Crushing and processing of camelina and carinata oils to produce “Drop-In” bio-based jet fuel.
* Drop-in fuel means the specifications of the bio-based jet fuel are the same as petroleum based jet fuel and no special storage or handling is required. This is a key requirement of the airline industry.

3. Seamless logistics and infrastructure for the end-use commercial customer.

The project will determine the potential benefit to producers, opportunities for accompanying processing and refining businesses, and for Saskatchewan’s economy. It is critical that the feasibility of this opportunity be confirmed early in order to map out the best path forward in developing this emerging industry.
"Mustard producers have invested research money into the development of carinata as a cropping option, but we need to know that the crop can be profitable for producers as well as all segments of the value chain," says Kevin Hursh, executive director of the Saskatchewan Mustard Development Commission.

The bio-based jet fuel industry is a very specialized field and Ag-West Bio will use external service providers with expertise in each of the critical activities who will interview users, industry experts and customers, and assess research information to complete the three components of the feasibility report. 

“Ag-West Bio is pleased to lead this important and timely study to assess the opportunity aviation biofuel from industrial oilseeds may provide for Saskatchewan. We look forward to working with stakeholders, project participants and other interested parties over the coming months,” says Mike Cey, VP Corporate & Business Development for Ag-West Bio and the project leader.

Ag-West Bio has established a Steering Committee that comprises Mustard 21 Canada Inc., Agrisoma Biosciences Inc., WestJet, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, the Saskatchewan Mustard Development Commission and Enterprise Saskatchewan. This committee will endeavor to understand the economics, logistics, the challenges and opportunities for production of these dedicated industrial oilseed crops, through to processing and commercial use of Drop-In bio-based jet fuel. 

This project is made possible thanks to Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada’s CAAP (Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program) funding, administered through ACS (Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan). Ag-West Bio would like to invite others who may be interested in furthering this work to come forward.