ALBERTA FUNDS DEVELOPMENT OF BIOPRODUCTS

Photo credit: Steve Price, CEO, AI Bio

Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions (AI Bio) has approved funding for 61 projects it says will add value to Alberta’s renewable resources. Nearly $13 million in grants will go to researchers and companies that will develop new industrial bioproducts or technologies using Alberta agriculture and forestry byproducts or other biomass.

The funding is part of an effort to diversify and strengthen the Alberta economy, as well as reduce the province’s reliance on fossil fuel exports. Bioproducts and bioindustrial technologies have the potential to partially or fully replace petroleum-based products and energy sources, thereby potentially lowering GHG emissions and reducing the carbon footprint.

The approved projects span the research and innovation continuum from early applied research to commercialization. In addition to AI Bio funding, 25 projects also receive industry funding. The researchers and companies carrying out the projects are using a variety of biomass types to develop or produce advanced biomaterials, biofuels, biochemicals or biocomposites for a broad range of applications. Examples include biofuels for transport and bioproducts that can be used in the energy, construction, forestry or manufacturing sectors. Numerous projects involve cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) for construction, manufacturing or medical applications.

“Alberta is blessed with abundant biomass in our forests and crops, advanced infrastructure and universities, and highly qualified personnel in our academic community and bioindustrial sector,” says Steve Price, CEO, AI Bio. “AI Bio works as a catalyst to bring these together to accelerate growth in an area with great potential.”In addition to AI Bio funding, SBI has received about $460,000 in support from Alberta Innovates Technology Futures. SBI has built a demonstration refinery capable of producing up to 10 million litres of renewable fuel per year. The company’s goal is to build a full-scale commercial biorefinery in the next several months that will produce up to 240 million litres per year by 2018. SBI hopes to start producing renewable fuel by the end of 2016. The dinosaur is the latest in a series of new finds being made by Evans and Dr. Michael Ryan, curator of vertebrate palaeontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Their Southern Alberta Dinosaur Project, designed to fill in gaps in our knowledge of Late Cretaceous dinosaurs in North America and study their evolution, focuses on the palaeontology of some of the oldest dinosaur-bearing rocks in Alberta, as well as rocks of neighbouring Montana. A full-sized skeleton and exhibit profiling Wendiceratops is currently on display at the ROM.

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