Northstar Clean Technologies intends to begin construction this fall on an asphalt shingle reprocessing scale-up facility in Calgary that could keep 30,000 to 50,000 tonnes per year of the material out of city landfills.
The new plant will be two to three times the size of a smaller existing pilot plant, called the Empower Pilot Facility, that was opened in Delta, B.C., to test the commercial production capacity of the technology.
The Vancouver-based company recently received a technical report and cost estimate for the new plant that was completed by third-party BBA Engineering Ltd. Cost of the plant, including a 20-per-cent contingency is $11.75 million.
Direct costs for labour, equipment and materials is about $8.6 million.
The plant, to be called the Calgary Empower Facility, will be the company’s second facility.
Northstar’s board of directors is planning to build a third plant in Toronto and a fourth in the Pacific Northwest, likely Seattle or Portland, as part of the first phase of its expansion before financing the rollout of more.
Final site selection and other construction terms for the Calgary facility must still be approved by the board of directors. They hope to have the facility up and running by the end of the first half of 2023. The plant will have a capacity to process 150 to 200 tonnes of shingles per day.
“We’ve got a technology which we believe is unique,” says Northstar president and CEO Aidan Mills. “A lot of people are looking at asphalt shingles and saying, ‘OK how do we stop these going into landfills?’ A shingle tile is about 50 per cent sand, 25 per cent fibre and about 25 per cent of that is asphalt.”
The plant will reprocess discarded single-use asphalt shingles which are destined for landfills and turn them into liquid asphalt for usage in new hot mix asphalt, construction products and other industrial applications.
“Combined with our revised economic analysis, we now believe this scale-up solution is a truly compelling way to solve a major environmental issue and to provide triple bottom-line benefits to the environment, to society and to stakeholders, including shareholders, employees and communities where we operate,” says Mills.
The pilot plant in B.C. has shown the process works and the extracted oil is of good quality, he says. It is reprocessing up to 20 tonnes of shingles a day and will likely ramp up to 60 tonnes by the third quarter of this year.
The company recently announced the results from an internal management-prepared economic analysis and is currently looking for a three-to-four-acre site for the new plant.
“Detailed design will start probably the first of July when the engineering studies are done and then pre-construction will start the first of October,” says Mills. “We’re likely to build everything on skids. The only stick build is going to be civil, electrical and site services.
“We’re likely to do onsite construction on the first of January and we think we should be able to start to ramp up in the second quarter of next year and the target is to have it operating by essentially the middle of next year.”
According to Mills, the company is now in the advanced stages of identifying a suitable site for the plant.
“The process is very efficient,” says Mills. “It’s not like a refining process where you have intermediate links and you’ve got to take stuff out and bring it back in and process it. It’s basically front-to-back processing. It comes in the front end, our magic works, and then out the back end comes sand, out comes fibre, out comes asphalt.”
Northstar’s board chose Calgary for its flagship facility for a number of reasons, one being that it is a strategic centre of Canada’s energy transition economy with strong provincial, municipal and community support for emissions reduction projects and has suitable industrial land options close to landfills.
“The reception to our environmental solution to landfill waste has been well received by the municipality, and we look forward to delivering a long-term solution for significantly reducing landfill waste from asphalt shingles in Calgary,” notes Mills. “We are also excited to bring jobs to Calgary, adding 10 to 15 staff plus contractors at the Calgary Empower Facility and continuing to expand our corporate office as we grow the business.”
Once the first batch of plants is built, the company plans to finance another 10 facilities, as the economics will be proven and the technology will be derisked.
“To be successful, I believe companies like ours with a sustainability focus first need to demonstrate their technology works,” says Mills. “Second, they need to scale up their technology. Third, they need to rapidly deploy their technology across their key markets.”