Canadian biochar firm raises €35.5m in funding round

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Airex Energy has raised $38 million (35.5m) in a funding round that will accelerate the Quebec company’s plans to expand its production of low-carbon industrial and agricultural products made from biomass, reported the Globe and Mail.
The seven-year-old company employs its own technology to turn sawmill byproducts and logging residue into biocoal pellets at its plant in Bécancour, Quebec. Biocoal can replace coal in power plants, slashing greenhouse-gas emissions by 90%, according to Airex.
The financing is led by Cycle Capital and includes existing investors Investissement Québec, Desjardins-Innovatech and Export Development Canada. A new investor, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, joined the group in the funding round.
It also has a recently renewed partnership with France’s Suez Group to develop markets for biochar, which is used as an additive in soil, and can also sequester carbon if processed into building materials such as concrete.
Airex will use proceeds from the funding round to increase capacity at its commercial-scale Bécancour biocoal plant, Michel Gagnon, the company’s chief executive, said in an interview.
It will also proceed with plans to build 350,000 tonnes a year of biochar production capacity by 2035 as part of its alliance with Suez, Gagnon added.
The first phase will be a 30,000 tonne plant in Quebec, with participation from Suez and a local biomass producer. The estimated cost of the project is about $40 million (37.3m). Europe and North America are target markets for the products.
Gagnon went on to say that Airex has already begun its next funding round, from which it aims to garner $130 million (121.5m) for its European and Asian growth plans. “The next plant, we already know it’s going to be built in Europe, and we have a very good approach with Suez as we develop these new projects together.”

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