Vancouver Clean Tech Company Gets a Boost From Prime Minister’s Visit

Canola Flowers

By Arman Kazemi

March 17, 2015

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a visit to a Vancouver-based biodiesel installation at a sustainability conference in the city earlier this month.

The so-called BioCube consists of a 20-foot repurposed shipping container equipped with a biodiesel processor.

The device works by converting excess feedstock oils such as waste vegetable and crude palm oil into usable biodiesel. The product comes out ready for use in “any modern diesel engine without modification, replacing the need for carbon-intensive fossil diesel,” according to a release.

The biodiesel it produces can reduce carbon emissions by up to 70 per cent relative to fossil diesel. In fact, biodiesel produced in B.C. from waste vegetable oil was 95 per cent less carbon-intensive than fossil diesel, according to the release.

On top of that, the BioCube is portable – at a modest 3.5 tonnes – and self-generating, using its own biodiesel to operate, though it can also run on grid power where available. This makes it particularly suitable for rural plantations in Africa, for example, where one model is fuelling a remote farm in Congo.

While industrial-scale refineries are stationary and cost millions to set up and operate, BioCube is geared towards the mid-range market, where one unit “costs around 15 per cent of the cheapest mid-sized refinery, takes a fraction of the space, and is ready to use from day one,” according to the company website.

And indeed, Trudeau’s visit helped attract attention to the B.C.-based tech company as it looks to expand its client base across the developed and developing world, including here at home.

"We're still a young company moving into full commercialization, but we now have machines operating in four continents,” said BioCube CEO David Tait in Exchange Magazine.

“It’s a story we’re writing in Australia, Africa and India right now… we’d like to be able to tell it by showcasing it here on our doorstep in North America as well,” he said. “We have customers here in B.C. who want a BioCube; unfortunately political roadblocks and tough economics make biodiesel production unfeasible for them.”