Pathways Alliance techno-assessment process showing some “cool” results

A Pathways Alliance techno-assessment process is helping an Ottawa start-up confirm some cool new research that shows Canada has an optimal climate to deploy a key technology in the fight against climate change.  

TerraFixing co-founder Vida Gabriel said support from Pathways Alliance has helped provide both funding and introductions to key experts such as Hatch Engineering that is helping advance its testing that shows cold, dry climates, like Canada, provide optimal conditions for deploying direct air capture, an emerging technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

 “When pitching such a breakthrough and disruptive technology like TerraFixing’s to investors, having a third-party report from a highly reputable engineering firm like Hatch is a game changer because it provides credibility,” said Gabriel. “Commissioning in-depth engineering assessments is financially prohibitive for start-up companies. Pathways unlocked that opportunity for us, which brought us tremendous value.”  

After reviewing the techno-economic assessment report for TerraFixing, Pathways Alliance members felt direct air capture belonged in the suite of emerging technologies that could help industry achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. As a next step, they are launching an evaluation of all direct air capture technologies available globally before deciding which ones to pursue. This evaluation is expected to be completed late 2023. 

TerraFixing’s, business goal is affordable and scalable direct air carbon capture as a practical solution to address climate change. The company’s proprietary technology captures carbon dioxide directly from the air from any emissions source so that it can be permanently sequestered underground .. 

The company’s simple five-step process, which is based on readily available and proven materials and modular units. Our members were interested and invested $30,000 to fund a techno-economic assessment that would evaluate the technology against a set of key parameters and identify a technology development path. 

Pathways Alliance members are constantly searching for emerging technologies that will help industry continue to reduce emissions and improve its environmental performance. When they identify something of interest, they are prepared to support the start-up company with introductions to mentors and funding bodies in the innovation ecosystem and point to other resources that will help move the technology forward.  

However, in many cases while emerging technologies may look promising, the full impact of deploying them at commercial scale is unclear. So Pathways has developed a standardized mechanism to first assess their potential to see if they are worth pursuing. This techno-economic assessment examines the benefits, costs, risks and other uncertainties associated with the technology, as well as how long it would take to reach full development. Pathways Alliance offers it to these start-ups at no cost.  

Pathways Alliance has a number of pre-qualified engineering companies with the relevant background and expertise to properly assess different technologies for deployment in the oil sands. Hatch Engineering was selected in late 2022 to conduct the assessment and the results were presented to  members in early 2023. Although funded by Pathways, the final techno-economic assessment report is owned by the start-up company regardless of whether the technology moves forward or not. 

To see other stories in the Innovation Hacks series, check out our For Innovators page.