Top Crop Manager

News
Farmer company first with canola-based bio-diesel

NEWS HIGHLIGHT

Farmer company first with canola-based bio-diesel

Hard work, a sense of vision and considerable investment by a group of farmers are showing signs of paying off, as a company in Foam Lake, Sask., is set to meet local, and hopefully regional demand for canola-based bio-diesel.


August 19, 2009
By FCC Agrisuccess Journal

August 7, 2009 – A group of farmers from the Foam Lake, Sask., area had an idea more than 15 years ago, to turn their canola into bio-diesel. Through a persistent and dedicated approach, they've now become the first company to produce the bio-friendly fuel on a commercial scale.

Milligan Biotech has officially opened a 10 million-litre bio-diesel plant at Foam Lake.

"The game plan from the beginning was do it right or don't do it at all," recalled company founder and Milligan Biotech executive manager Zenneth Faye.

"We wanted to have bio-diesel production in Foam Lake and we have it here today."

Throughout the development of the business, Milligan Biotech has focused on producing the highest quality canola-based bio-diesel possible. They've worked with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, University of Saskatchewan, the Alberta Renewable Diesel Demonstration project and many others to test and verify the effectiveness of their product.

"We use non-food grade canola, that is canola not suitable for the food industry," explains Faye, adding that normally, eight to 10 percent of the Prairie canola crop can't be used for food purposes because of green-seed problems or because it heated while in storage.

The Government of Canada, through Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), has committed $7 million to help the company take its bio-diesel process from a demonstration facility to a commercial operation. The SDTC is an arms-length foundation that provides bridge funding to businesses. A key focus is support for projects that establish first-of-a-kind, large-scale facilities for the production of next generation renewable fuels.

"The contribution by SDTC will allow us to continue with our goal for made-in-Canada Technology in the fast growing bio-diesel industry. Our value added model assists producers with marketing opportunities while bringing much needed revitalization to rural communities," says Faye.

The goal is to grow the operation in Foam Lake as demand for the bio-friendly fuel expands in Canada. The ultimate goal is to have a 150 million litre bio-diesel production plant, plus a network of similar facilities across Western Canada.

Many provinces are implementing mandates for their diesel fuel to contain certain amounts of bio-diesel, and the federal government has a bio-diesel mandate that is to take effect in 2012. Milligan Biotech sees expansion occurring in both Foam Lake and across the Prairies.

"Once the oil companies start using bio-diesel in their diesel fuel blends, demand will be there for the bio-diesel. We've situated ourselves to be first at the gate and when that time comes we will have to expand our operations here," says Glen Helgason, chairman of Milligan Biotech.

To get the company to this point, more than $15 million dollars have been invested already, with 28 new jobs being created in the town of Foam Lake. Milligan Biotech also offers a range of other products including a penetrating oil, diesel fuel conditioner and road dust suppressant.