Formed in 2007 by three principals – Chief Scientific Officer Dr. George Ritchie, President Larry Donovan, and CEO Barry Farquharson – NovaGreen Inc. (NovaGreen) specializes in value added biomass conversion.
NovaGreen’s technology model is known as Sequential Extraction Technology (SET). It builds on core Intellectual Property developed in large part by Dr. Ritchie, enhanced via the addition of both downstream and upstream technology partners. The technology extracts and refines various low value starting biomass feedstocks into an array of high value Food and Nutrition & Environmental Remediation products.
Emerging leader in biomass
NovaGreen will initially concentrate on agricultural biomass conversion. Key starting value added products include: Inulin, a dietary fibre solution for the consumer food and livestock markets; and Xylitol, a diabetic safe sugar replacement product in high demand. After these initial products are extracted from biomass, the technology also produces Biochar and Activated Carbon. Biochar, once returned to soil, enhances the next growth cycle as a result of its rejuvenation properties. And NovaGreen’s Activated Carbon has the commercial capability to remove toxins such as mercury and selenium from air and water.
“Biochar really enhances the next cycle of growth because it has the capability to retain water, nutrients, and to fix carbon as well, giving it a strong environmental and agricultural benefit,” Farquharson told The Canadian Business Journal. Activated carbon, derived from Biochar, also holds promise as a product with a strong, long-term environmental benefit.
As a renewable resource, biomass offers a high level of long-term sustainability. In particular, agricultural biomass is an annually renewable product. And NovaGreen has the ability to use many diverse agricultural and forestry biomass types in its extraction process. This enables the business model to extend into the international marketplace. While much attention has been paid to the fuel replacement market (ethanol and oil-based products), NovaGreen instead focuses on food and environment.
Inulin is a prebiotic, high fibre food additive that has a variety of healthy benefits. In terms of its environmental benefits, inulin used in agricultural livestock feed can help reduce methane, and will help the livestock market reduce days on feed. These and other environmental benefits of the solution have been recognized and supported by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).
The ability to produce cost effective, domestic Xylitol adds to the overall value of the solution. Xylitol fills an increasingly important role in the sugar replacement market. With diabetes and pre-diabetes reaching record levels, products such as Xylitol represent a necessary direction for the food market. Xylitol is diabetic safe and has significant overall health and dental benefits – it actually can reduce dental cavities and help rebuild tooth enamel.
The overall model offers long-term sustainability advantages, including superior end-to-end feedstock utilization – virtually a no-waste model. “Our solution fits into this market very well,” Farquharson said. “It certainly adds a lot of value to the domestic, North American market. But it is also a solution that has global reach, because biomass is present everywhere. We have the ability to utilize many different biomass types to create a broad range of high value products.”
The NovaGreen model
The biomass industry is diverse. NovaGreen’s business model sets it apart from the pack. The model utilizes some traditional agricultural feedstocks such as wheat straw in its processes, but it also utilizes unique biomass types that have not been commercially used in the past. An example: NovaGreen will use Jerusalem artichoke, as one feedstock type. It is a fast growing, high density feedstock with high value in the food and nutrition marketplace.
“You get excellent growth density,” Farquharson explained. “Jerusalem artichoke also has high inulin content. Inulin is in high demand in the global marketplace, and is a product not sourced in North America at the present time.
“We provide a ‘Made in Canada’ solution to an old problem. There is high demand for inulin in North America, and demand is constrained because there is no domestic availability at present.”
“Everything we’re taking into the front-end of the process is utilized downstream. There is very little waste involved – we’re using about 95 per cent of our intake product,” Farquharson said. “As a result, it’s a cost-competitive solution. And we can provide the domestic market with the assurance of consistent and high quality products.”
Market direction is extremely positive. High growth rates in the food fibre market – estimated as high as 750 per cent by 2015 – combined with a lagging domestic supply chain, creates exceptional opportunities for NovaGreen both domestically, within North America, and across global markets. The technology and model of NovaGreen represents a unique high growth opportunity. NovaGreen’s diverse model offers a variety of capabilities, and it has enabled the company to move forward with its project rapidly, reducing risk, and stimulating investment.
Currently, NovaGreen’s innovative technology model is in a demonstration phase, optimizing its technical components in order to integrate its different processes. Commercially, NovaGreen plans to locate its first facility in Canada – a concept that could then be globally replicated. Both Europe and Asia have shown interest in NovaGreen’s technology.
“Additionally, there is a very strong market for organic and gluten-free products, which we can address in the future through our feedstock set,” Farquharson summarized. “We plan to take the solution into both organic and gluten-free markets as we evolve.”
For more information, visit www.NovaGreen.ca