We are finalists! NaTURAL Resources Canada - Crush It! Challenge

Envisioning Labs supercritical co2 2.jpg

We are delighted to report that we are one of the six finalists in the Crush It! Competition organized by Natural Resources Canada as part of the Impact Canada Initiative. This contest aimed at "finding and advancing innovative solutions that reduce energy use for crushing and grinding mined rock [that will subsequently] reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve productivity and help our mining industry become more competitive", according to the National Resource Canada. In essence, this important competition seeks to provide viable solutions to help reduce energy consumption in the mining industry as a way for the country to transition to a low-carbon economy.

A total of 65 participants submitted ideas to this contest, 12 were selected as semi-finalists, and after an intense pitch presentation we did in Toronto this past March, we have been selected as one of the six finalists!

Each of the finalists is eligible to up to $800,000 in funding to build the solution in 18 months to then compete in the grand final for a $5 million grand prize in 2021.

“Our mining industry has positioned Canada as a leading mining nation and a centre of global mining finance and expertise. Improving the energy efficiency of crushing and grinding rock will create good jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build a more sustainable mining sector. Congratulations to all the Challenge participants for helping modernize a foundational industry in Canada.”

- Amarjeet Sohi
Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources

 

So, what’s the big idea? Gas fracturing rock.

 
 

We are proposing the utilization of CO2 in supercritical state to induce mini-explosions inside the rock to crack it. Our Chief Innovation Officer and concept inventor explains in more detail:

“Using re-captured CO2 as the working fluid and repeatedly expanding and contracting the CO2 across the supercritical phase boundary within the rock, we expect to successively fragment the rock from inside out. This enables access to the valuable ore contained in the rock without steel on rock compressive crushing and grinding.”

- Cliff Edwards
Envisioning Labs, Chief Innovation Officer

This innovative approach for rock comminution drew quite a positive response amongst the judges in the semi-final pitching competition as well as other stakeholders familiar with the current, energy-intensive processes of shattering rock. Still, it is a concept technique without benchmarks and we’ll be pioneering a potential pathway that we hope can reduce energy consumption significantly.

“This is certainly one of our most ambitious undertakings thus far. If successful, we have the potential to not only save considerable money in energy savings, but because of the nature of the concept (i.e. minimum mechanical elements involved), we see potential in further reducing ancillary energy consumption that could subsequently result in significantly mitigating the overall carbon footprint of a key process in the mining industry.

- Oscar Malpica
Envisioning Labs, CEO

We are certainly happy to be one of the six finalist, but the team is more excited at the prospect of making a positive environmental and cost-efficient impact if we succeed.

As the scope, duration and expected outcomes of this project are extremely challenging, Envisioning Labs will be collaborating with academic and industry partners: Dr. Sanja Miskovic of the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering of the University of British Columbia will assist our team as the Lead Academic Partner, and MistyWest Energy & Transport Ltd. as our design and engineering partner.