Sani Marc Group > Latest News > Sani Marc and UQTR are partnering in an innovative project

Sani Marc and UQTR are partnering in an innovative project


A text by Maude Montembeault

Researchers at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) have found a completely new way of using factory wastewater to produce organic soaps. Their new technological advance will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions (CO2).

The project was initiated two years ago by the team of Simon Barnabé, Professor of the Industrial Research Chair on Regional Bioeconomy and Bioenergy at the UQTR’s integrated centre for pulp and paper technology.

The project was developed in collaboration with the Victoriaville company Sani-Marc, which discharges 20,000 to 30,000 litres of wastewater daily.

This water is partially treated in the factory before entering the municipal sewer system. This partial treatment costs $30,000 to $40,000 annually and occupies a technician from 2 to 3 hours a day. The wastewater collected by the researchers would otherwise be discharged into Victoriaville’s municipal sewer system, where the target companies are located.

usine.jpg usine2.jpg
usine3.jpg usine4.jpg

The UQTR researchers are using wastewater from Sani-Marc and neighbouring businesses (Parmalat Lactantia, Abbott Laboratories, Groupe Canlac and Gesterra) to produce microalgae in basins. After harvesting and dehydrating the algae, they extract the oil to make new organic soap.

uqtr.jpg uqtr2.jpg
uqtr3.jpg uqtr4.jpg

So far, the laboratory tests, which have been conducted in 500 mL and 400 litre vials, have been successful. The challenge now is to increase production to a pilot scale of 10,000 litres. A basin has been installed in a UTQR pavilion where the collected algae will be transferred to a paper machine and mixed with pulp prior to being dried.

algues.jpg algues2.jpg


A World First 

According to the UQTR researchers, this is the first time this technique has been used anywhere in the world. Oleotek, the College Centre for the Transfer of Technologies run by the Cégep de Thetford-Mines, is responsible for converting the oils into ingredients for soaps. This is the most difficult step in the process, and experts at the centre are already practising the technique with vegetable oils. To date, there are no sanitizing products on the market containing soap derived from algae.

Objective: Reducing CO2

Should the project become a reality in Victoriaville’s industrial park, not only would the 30,000 litres of wastewater discharged daily by Sani-Marc be reused, but the park’s carbon dioxide emissions would also be captured.

“Growing algae takes CO2 from the atmosphere and converts it into oxygen. It’s as if we were creating a mini-forest in Victoriaville to convert CO2 into oxygen.”
— Patrick Marchand, Innovation and Development Director at Sani-Marc

The UQTR researchers also showed that by using the waste heat of the plants involved in the project, they would be able to grow algae outdoors, even during the winter.

A financially viable project?
The complete recovery of wastewater would certainly allow Sani-Marc to save money, but will the cost of manufacturing the new soap be worth the effort? This question will only be answered once the pilot unit tests are completed. Professor Simon Barnabé estimates that the project will cost close to a million dollars.
The researchers expect to continue their work for another three years.