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Alberta Yield: Carbon Oxytech cleans up coal and improves food production

Abdallah Manasrah saw a way to clean up aspects of the energy industry, particularly around their waste products.

Manasrah comes from an academic background, and he’d been working on his PhD at the University of Calgary. His area of focus as a chemical engineer was on the solid waste generated from hydrocarbons.

“There is no use for this material, only for power generation, which has an impact on the environment with co2 emissions and energy consumption,” Manasrah said.

That’s when the idea to found Carbon Oxytech came to him.

“Let’s have a value out of this,” he said.

He applied for green STEM – a program that helped accelerate environmental technology programs. That helped him get his start.

Complications with the environment

The different spent carbon material posed a significant problem for the environment, Manasrah said.

He explored different ways to use the waste could be converted into a more environmentally friendly product.

Manasrah has published peer-reviewed work on a process called oxy-cracking. It’s a process that is an alternative beyond the combustion of these materials – particularly low-grade coal. It involves oxidization of the different materials at near zero temperatures and different pressures.

There are different end results: Cleaner fuels, mineral recovery, carbon nanomaterials, recyclable water and humic acid.

It’s the latter that provides a commercial opportunity for Manasrah and Carbon Oxytech.

Humic acid is a group of molecules that help plant roots receive water and nutrients. It can increase a farmers’ yield.

“I see there is attraction in industry and people looking for this material to be used especially in the agricultural sector,” he said.

He’s also looking at ways to use other byproducts to create a microfibre product.

What that ag industry needs

Coming from a petroleum and hydrocarbon background, Manasrah didn’t know exactly what the agriculture sector needed.

Participating in the Alberta Yield program through Platform Calgary he saw where his product could fit in. It’s allowed him to engage with a number of different mentors in the ag sector, so he could determine the market for the technology.

Right now, Manasrah is scaling up the production process. The goal is to have steady production by the end of this year. Ideally, he wants to meet the needs in Alberta.

“Then after that, the plan is to expand my activities in order to produce more and reach out to North America and also in the rest of the world, to sell this product,” he said.

“My target customer is anywhere in the world.”