Tree in lightbulb on grass

Fuelling innovation with standardization

Doc Brown fuelling the DeLorean with garbage to get “Back to the Future”—that’s what you might think of the first time you hear about Terragon’s MAGSTM device. Terragon Environmental Technologies is a Montreal-based clean technology company that developed the Micro Auto Gasification System (MAGS). MAGS generates energy fuelled by waste such as plastics, paper, food, used oils and wood. The waste is then converted into a carbon residue, releasing clean emissions in the process. 


The thermal energy produced can be used to heat water or for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units. Although MAGS is currently used on cruise ships, in overseas resorts, and by the military, Terragon’s aim is to expand their market to businesses and households in Canada. With such cool technology, what could possibly be holding them back?

To get to market in Canada, Terragon required certification to demonstrate to regulators that MAGs is a safe energy appliance.

“We were breaking new ground,” said Karolina Apland, Environmental Assessment and Planning, M.Env. “There was nothing on the market like MAGS, and because we thermally treat garbage, the closest thing that regulators could compare us with was an incinerator.”

But incinerators burn waste, generally not cleanly, and do not create usable energy from the process. The emissions from MAGS were closer to that of a boiler than an incinerator, yet it was not placed in that category. This meant that the cost of permits for MAGS would be more than the actual appliance, creating unfathomable costs for the customer.

No other device like MAGS, no current certification for such a device, and no standard to certify against—that’s the hurdle that Terragon faced, and that’s why they came to SCC. 

“We were frustrated and exhausted,” said Apland. “We had spoken to the regulators, we had looked into certification and tried to find a standard that would work for us. There was nothing that fit and we weren’t sure what else we could do to get to market in our own country. We needed help from someone within the standardization world.”
The SCC’s Innovation Initiative was created in 2017 to help Canada’s innovators overcome barriers preventing them from commercializing and scaling up, and to bring the full benefits of the standardization system to them. Terragon was one of the first companies to go through the program. SCC identified the simplest and speediest way to get over this hurdle was to facilitate the development a temporary standards document known as an Other Recognized Document, or ORD. Certification to it would allow the company to demonstrate the product’s safety and relevance as a clean technology.

“We had investigated all of our options, and creating a new standard in the form of an ORD was the only way to go,” said Apland. “We needed to show regulators that this innovative technology was in a class of its own and deserved to be on the market. It is not only safe to operate, but it also enables users to lower their greenhouse gas footprint.”
Working with UL and with the support of SCC, Terragon was able to develop the ORD and attain certification for MAGS. ORDs are valid for up to five years, and the intent is to publish a standard to replace the document at that time. 

“We are working with UL to find the best path forward for continued certification with development of or inclusion in a standard,” said Apland. “We have learned so much through this journey. Navigating the system is not easy for innovators and having a team at SCC to support us along the way was essential.”