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Canadian gov hands over millions for 16 renewable energy projects

It looks like the U.S. isn't the only North American country planning to pump tens of millions of dollars into developing renewable forms of energy. The Canadian government has announced it will spend $41 million ($53 million Canadian) on 16 projects that promise to deliver new forms of clean energy or to help citizens reduce existing energy use.

Among them: (Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), which will administer the funds, didn't provide specific funding amounts, nor did it specify when the funds will be available.)

Fusion technology—General Fusion Inc. in Burnaby, British Columbia, working with Los Alamos National Laboratory and Powertech Labs Inc., will now have more money to develop its fusion technology, which uses sound waves to create a fusion reaction. The hope is that this approach will enable fusion to deliver on its promise of generating electricity without greenhouse gas emissions, pollution or radioactive waste.

Ethanol production—Toronto's GreenField Ethanol Inc. is leading an effort to develop a biochemical process for making lignocellulosic ethanol that by 2015 could begin producing 18.5 million gallons (70 million liters) per year of ethanol from corn cobs, eliminating a concern that biofuel takes food away from people. Another project, headed by Performance Plants Inc. (PPI) in Kingston, Ontario, seeks to modify the cell wall structure of cellulose fibers, making it easier for them to release useable sugars that can  be converted into alcohol.

Wave power—SyncWave Energy, Inc., in Pemberton, B.C., has developed wave energy technology designed to generate power from both the upward and downward motion of waves. The company's goal is to demonstrate a prototype that can muster 100 kilowatts of capacity off the coast of Vancouver Island. (Scientific American.com covered several other wave power projects as part of its October in-depth report on alternative energy.)

"Smart" grid—REGEN Energy Inc. in Toronto is working to simplify wireless building control systems critical to the construction of a national smart grid that moves clean-energy resources to power load centers and connects to a distribution system that delivers energy and real-time information about the use of such energy to consumers. By exchanging information with  one another, REGEN's EnviroGrid controllers  could determine which devices should operate at any given point in time, reducing peak demand by up to 30 percent. (For additional Scientific American.com smart grid coverage.)

Solar energy—Trope DesignResearch Ltd. in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has developed a translucent thermal storage device (read Sciam.com's "How to Use Solar Energy at Night") that allows light to pass through its surface and improve natural lighting inside a building. The SolArch technology, which can be used as exterior building cladding or as windows, uses a natural convection method to redistribute stored heat when temperatures inside a building or room drop. Government funding will enable Trope test its tech on three buildings.

The Canadian government will administer the funds through Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a nonprofit company set up in 2001 to dole out and monitor projects that promise economic, environmental and health benefits.

Image ©iStockphoto.com/ Jim Parkin

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