Innovative Canadian companies receive funding to improve air quality

July 28, 2003

(July 28, 2003 - CALGARY) A consortium consisting of NOVA Chemicals, the Alberta Research Council Inc. (ARC) and the University of Waterloo is one of seven groups approved for first-round funding by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to develop innovative technologies to improve emission reductions and air quality. Overall contribution to the three-year project from all parties amounts to approximately $2 million Cdn.

The consortium is developing an improved separation process for the production of olefins from petrochemical plants. This process, based on a new membrane technology, offers a viable alternative to the high-cost, energy consuming operation currently performed by large distillation columns. The new technology could significantly reduce the energy required in separation applications.

"This is an exciting technology," says John Zhou, manager of the Alberta Research Council's Advanced Materials business unit. "It has significant potential to reduce the capital cost and CO2 emissions associated with olefin production. Olefin producers can benefit both ways."

Paul Clark, Vice-President, Research & Technology at NOVA Chemicals, explains, "We know that membrane separation technology works in a laboratory setting. What we're trying to answer through this study, is to assess the potential commercial viability of this technology. ARC has developed specialized expertise in polymer membrane technology. Our expertise is fitting this into the petrochemical process. Our ability to facilitate testing at commercial pressures, temperatures and operating parameters - real world applications that run on a 24/7 basis - makes a significant contribution to this program."

The Alberta Research Council and University of Waterloo have developed specialized expertise in polymer membrane technology, and will lead the membrane module development. NOVA Chemicals will lead pilot plant demonstration, application and eventual commercialization of the technology. NOVA Chemicals and the Alberta Research Council have jointly filed a patent application to claim the underlying technology for the project.

Olefins include chemicals like ethylene and propylene, and are used to make polyolefins (polyethylene and polypropylene). Ethylene is also used as a feedstock for making household products such as vinyl siding, wire coatings, food containers, plastic bags and water pipes.

"We are pleased to be working with NOVA Chemicals and their consortia partners, ARC and the University of Waterloo. This innovative technology, backed by strong collaboration, holds the promise of both economic and environmental benefits, with broad benefits to industry and Canadians overall. A more efficient process will also put Canadian-based operations on a more competitive footing. We commend this team on their commitment to sustainable development," says Dr. Vicky Sharpe, President and CEO at SDTC.

NOVA Chemicals Corporation is a focused commodity chemical company, producing olefins/polyolefins and styrenics at 18 locations in the United States, Canada, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. NOVA Chemicals Corporation shares trade on the Toronto and New York exchanges under the trading symbol NCX.

The Alberta Research Council Inc. develops and commercializes technologies to give clients a competitive advantage. A leader in innovation, ARC provides solutions globally to the energy, life sciences, agriculture, environment, forestry and manufacturing sectors.

The University of Waterloo is one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with undergraduate and graduate programs in the faculties of engineering, mathematics, science, arts, environmental studies and applied health sciences. In the 2003 annual university survey in Maclean's magazine, UW was ranked No. 1 for best overall reputation.

SDTC is a $350-million foundation that is funded by the Government of Canada through the Department of Natural Resources Canada and Environment Canada. SDTC operates as an arm's-length, not-for-profit corporation with a mandate to develop and demonstrate innovative technology solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. Its mission is to act as the primary catalyst in building a sustainable development infrastructure in Canada.
For more information, please contact:

Sherri de Laforest
NOVA Chemicals
Tel: (403) 750-2778

John Zhou
Alberta Research Council Inc.
Tel: (780) 450-5440

Greg Graham
Vice President,
Tel: (613) 234-6313 x 222

Alberta Research Council Inc.

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