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A step in a cleaner direction

Leaders in the oil & gas sector are competing for who can develop the “cleanest barrel”. Getting there means, among other things, cleaning up the extraction process. The traditional industry practice for recovering deep oil reserves is to pump steam through underground pipes. That uses a lot of energy and water, and accounts for significant GHG emissions.

Enter Calgary-based NSolv and its more environmentally efficient way of recovering these reserves. Its technology uses solvents like propane and butane instead of water-based steam. The result is oil recovery with zero water consumed and 80 percent fewer emissions.

Proving success

In 2014, Nsolv opened a pilot facility at Suncor’s Dover test site north of Fort McMurray. Since then, the company has produced more than 200,000 barrels of oil. Now Nsolv is looking to scale-up with a commercial facility that can show that its innovation is industry ready.

Getting to this point took a solid mix of public financing and major capital investments, including $10 million in funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) and $10 million from Emissions Reduction Alberta which it then leveraged into another $44 million of private financing from industry players like Suncor.

Some of NSolv’s success can also be attributed to increasingly stringent regulations in the oil & gas industry, which are pushing producers to find cleaner ways of doing business and creating a market for technologies like NSolv’s.

Two key ingredients

Accelerating clean innovation in Canada means fueling the demand for new technologies and processes through strong environmental standards. It also means nourishing start-ups with the financing they need to grow.

On both counts, government has a role to play.

Find out more with our latest work on accelerating #cleaninnovation in Canada.

WATCH: CBC shows how Nsolv’s innovation works