A researcher at the University of Saskatchewan has authored a recipe that could use some of the millions of tons of leftover canola meal produced in Canada in a mass-produced fashion: as a biofuel.
Professor Ajay Dalay, Canadian Research Head of Environmentally Friendly Bioenergy and Chemical Processing, has been thinking about how to mimic the use of pellets as biofuel by forest sectors in the province’s vast agricultural industry, which has ample supply.
It will generate an invaluable alternative source of biofuels from leftovers from canola production.
Canada exports pellets worth $300 million [from forestry] To Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and a few other countries.”
“Why can’t we do the same for agricultural materials to bring us some revenue [local] farmers? “
Canola-based biofuels are already traded by blending canola oil with diesel for vehicles. The Dalai Lama’s process of making pellets of canola powder to replace coal and oil in things like heating homes is another way to use canola for fuel.
This is especially true of Saskatchewan, which accounts for nearly half (about 47 percent) of Canada’s crop fields, according to a Statistics Canada report in 2017. Canola was the largest crop planted in the province, covering more than 11 million acres. in 2016.
The Dalai Lama said Canada produced 18 million tons of canola powder in 2019, about 10 million tons of which came from Saskatchewan.
After canola oil is squeezed out of the crop, about 40 percent of the meal is fed to livestock and some is exported. The rest, about 50 percent of the meal residue, he said, can be used to produce the pellets.
Weekend in Saskatchewan10:52Using leftover canola meal as an energy source
The Dalai Lama’s challenge was to make pellets that could withstand storage and transportation without swelling or collapsing, becoming unusable.
He had to consider energy density, mechanical strength, and hydrophobicity (also known as hydrophobic materials). The Dalai Lama said his recipe takes all of these into account.
Replacing fossil fuels
Part of what drives the Dalai Lama is the economic prospects – exporting can be expensive and keeping produce in the province can be beneficial.
Another driver is the county’s reliance on fossil fuels as an energy source, as this source is limited.
About 83 percent of the province’s electricity is derived from fossil fuels, according to Energy Canada.
“Eventually we will run out of fossil fuels. We are phasing out oil, for home heating, transportation, and industry, and we have to rely on alternative sources, including bioenergy,” he said.
“This is not just for us, but for the next generation and future generations. So if you can contribute a small part to this… I think that’s really good for everyone.”