Evan Chrapko stands in front of his biorefinery near Vegreville, which uses manure from a nearby feedlot to produce bioGas that in turn will be used to generate electricity and ethanol.
Highmark Renewables < www.Highmark.ca >, the local group behind the Growing Power Hairy Hill ('GPHH') < www.GrowingPower.com > bioGas plant near Vegreville, has won patent protection for its new 'Integrated bioRefinery(TM)' platform technology from the U.S. and South Africa.
This sets the stage for other nations to follow, said Evan Chrapko, co-chief executive of Highmark, which is seeking patent protection in many countries for its waste-to-energy technology.
The firm said key features winning protection include its anaerobic digester and so-called 'add-ons' such as prion-destruction modules, waste-processing machinery and bioGas cleaning.
'The concept we have is putting two otherwise unrelated things together, swapping ingredients between them so you dramatically enhance the economics,' Chrapko said.
'One plus one is greater than two.'
The new patents join the family of inventions known as IMUS(TM) (Integrated bioMass Utilization System). The firm's technology now underpins a bioGas plant that uses manure from a nearby feedlot to create bioGas < www.GrowingPower.com >. An expansion set to open late next year will convert organic wastes and non-food grade wheat into green electricity, bio-fertilizer and ethanol fuel.
These additions will make the plant the world's first Integrated bioRefinery(TM) facility based on the patented IMUS(TM) technology.
'There are other attempts in other countries for stand-alone plants, but they are not integrated the way we will do under this patent,' he said.
The potential is for existing plants to become more efficient, and for new ones to be built that make economic sense.
One example is Germany, which already has about 5,000 [comparatively small] digesters in place to handle farm waste.
'They run on a single feedstock (manure [or other waste]), but we have expertise in using multiple feedstocks going in simultaneously, and killing off pathogens while we are at it,' Chrapko said.
'You are getting energy from waste, and cleaning it up. Bolt this on to a bioFuels plant and you completely destroy the whole food-versus-fuel debate, and [dramatically uplift] the (green) energy balance. ... You get past all these distractions.'
Chrapko notes the solar and wind promoters 'pat themselves on their backs that they have an infinite supply of free feedstock--the wind and the sun, but no one has acknowledged that we can get to the exact same end point, producing electricity or bioFuel while solving a big, noxious problem at the same time.'
Many areas of the world are short of electricity but have plenty of waste to deal with. Chrapko said equipment using Highmark bioGas technology is already on its way to Pakistan, where the waste from cattle alone could fuel small 25 to 50 megawatt power plants.
'They close hospitals for lack of electricity there,' he said.
'We can make a difference with our technology.'