IDI is a private company run by four Ontario-based businessman. It has acquired Canadian-developed patent rights for a unique technology, the Tkac debranning process, to produce value-added grain products. A Guelph-based company is building a $200-million grain processing plant in Saskatchewan that will also make ethanol out of production wastes.
It will also use a pyrolysis/gasification technology to covert all waste products, the remaining part of the grain after processing, into ethanol.
The three-phase plan for the plant includes a barley and wheat fractionation plant - which will produce high-value products such as beta glucan from the barley bran - a nutritional bar production facility and the creation of ethanol and biodiesel as a byproduct.
The technology "is pretty well proven" and was tested in April in the Czech Republic, where the equipment will be manufactured, Findlay said.
IDI broke ground on a field just south of Rosthern, in north central Saskatchewan, on Tuesday. The town has a population of 1,600. A rural municipality that also goes by the name of Rosthern is home to the project site.
The company will require 30 million bushels of wheat and barley per year and plans to produce almost 800,000 tons of product.
Findlay, who is also the president of Compusense - a Guelph-based software company - said IDI has been trying to keep the source of its funds quiet. "The project is entirely privately funded by organizations interested in green products," he said.
"The money is coming from offshore. There is nothing sinister in terms of the funding itself, but at this stage in the game it is something that requires some discretion," he said. "Canadian banks and investors don't get into this type of project."
"Because the technology is new, even understanding it is something the average banker would have a hard time wrapping his head around. None of the investor groups are oil companies," he said. "This is really part of a larger environmental movement."
- The existing process of using "valuable grains" and fermentation to make ethanol is inefficient and dependent on subsidies
- There's an opportunity here potentially to produce much lower-cost ethanol, which could be a real benefit