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Ont. backs study of “multi-oilseed” biofuel plant

Biofuel industry players are considering the feasibility of what they say could be a unique “multi-oilseed” biofuel plant in southwestern Ontario.

Chatham, Ont.-based Agris Co-operative and Calgary’s Suncor Energy will conduct a feasibility study on alternative fuel sources in the region, with the help of a $50,000 investment from the provincial government and backing from the province’s soybean growers.

The provincial funding, announced Friday, comes from the province’s Rural Economic Development program. “Local farms could potentially provide the material a new facility would require to produce biofuel,” the province said.

“This project has the potential to create synergy between our organization and Suncor Energy to provide economic benefits to farmers and their communities,” Agris president Richard Tanner said in the province’s release.

“Soy is poised to play an important role in Ontario’s emerging bio-economy,” Dale Petrie, general manager of Ontario Soybean Growers (OSG), said in a separate release Friday, noting the grower association will also put up “significant funding support” fore the study.

For soy to play such a role, he said, “we need to have a flexible soybean crush facility that would create multiple base stocks for renewable products.”

The facility proposed in this scoping study would be flexible enough to handle different types of soybeans, including those with specific traits such as high-oleic, destined to be manufactured into renewable plastics or foams, or high omega-3, grown as a source of healthier oils for food processing, the OSG said in its release.

The proposed facility “would capitalize on the Ontario soybean industry’s well-established (identity preservation or IP) soybean system, to segment the crop for many different end products and end users,” the group said Friday.

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