Innovator Spotlight: Mobilizing Canada’s Bioeconomy to Fight Climate Change

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One of the key challenges faced by the bioeconomy is the provision of competitively-priced, high-quality biomass. BioFuelNet Canada (BFN) is building on this insight and on its past accomplishments to develop and grow the bioeconomy.

One exciting project has opened up the prospect of growing a “super-crop” with multiple value streams. By growing willow trees tilted at 45 degrees, BFN researchers made scientific advances in the biology behind the cellulose-rich “tension wood” that contributes high quality biomass for enhanced biofuel yield. Under the supervision of Université de Montréal adjunct professor Michel Labrecque, the scientists identified willow varieties and growth techniques that increased the trees’ capacity to clean up polluted soil. They also exploited the biochemistry behind this high-tolerance capacity for substantially increased green chemicals production (bioproducts).

In another BFN project, a team led by University of British Columbia engineering professor Dr. Shahab Sokhansanj developed a novel, energy-efficient process for steam-treating wood pellets. The process yields unusually strong and durable pellets tailor-made for conversion into usable bioproducts such as biochar and biocoal. Global Bio-Coal Energy Inc. is partnering with this BFN research team to commercialize the breakthrough process. Transforming raw biomass into a standardized form, such as the pellet, significantly facilitates transportation and use, whether within Canada or overseas.

As these examples show, BFN’s strength lies in building bridges between researchers and entrepreneurs from across Canada who share similar objectives that strengthen the bioeconomy. That is why BFN took one step further earlier this year to create a cluster focused on commoditizing agricultural biomass to fight climate change. Read more about BioMass Canada here.

Policy-makers, industry representatives and the academic community need to better understand the bioeconomy and advanced biofuels in particular. That is why BFN created its online Advanced Biofuels Course. Consisting of 17 lectures by Canada’s top biofuels experts, this course provides decision makers with the necessary information to better understand the challenges and opportunities that our bioeconomy offers. This month alone, 25 federal government representatives benefited from this unique collection of know-how in an on-site course.

Looking ahead, BFN is ready to catalyze more partnerships that will play an active role in addressing the climate and energy challenges that we face. We cannot do this in isolated silos!

About us

BioFuelNet Canada (BFN) is a federally-incorporated, not-for-profit organization and former Network of Centres of Excellence with a proven record of accomplishment in bioeconomy research and innovation. Since 2012, BFN integrated the efforts of over 230 researchers from across Canada, working with 29 post-secondary institutions and 127 industry partners. Our vision is the emergence of a Canadian bioeconomy based on advanced biofuels and bioproducts that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable and globally competitive.

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