Category Archives: bioeconomy

Researcher coaxes biomaterial out of its shell

(L to R) Brooke Marion, Dr. Chris Murray and Kayla Snyder used chitosan and crumb rubber to make pavement - web

(L to R) Brooke Marion, Dr. Chris Murray and Kayla Snyder

By Lisa McLean for AgInnovation Ontario

Thunder Bay – There’s a naturally-occurring material found in discarded shells from crab and shrimp that offers properties with promising industrial uses.

Now, a researcher at Lakehead University is studying the material, and exploring potential for a broad range of applications ranging from wastewater treatment to better pavement.

Dr. Chris Murray studies the properties of chitosan – a naturally occurring long sugar molecule that is found in nearly all invertebrates.

“Chitosan plays a role in many animals that have exoskeletons,” says Murray. “It can be really tough and it provides a lot of physical strength for organisms.” Continue reading

How Canadian soybean farmers are protecting the Bruce Trail

This story comes to us from Soy 20/20

Cutting the Bruce - Image provided courtesy of Tom Hall - web
By Lilian Schaer for Soy 20/20

Niagara Escarpment – What do soybean farmers and Ontario’s famous Bruce Trail have in common? More than you might think.

The Bruce Trail, popular with hikers, runs the length of the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere reserve, from Niagara to Tobermory, Ontario. It is maintained by a team of volunteers, who use their chain saws and other equipment to manage the trail and keep it useable and safe.

All that equipment leaves an environmental footprint, though – oil residues from chain saw cutting, volatile organics from combustion, and sometimes respiratory irritation for sawyers during extended periods of cutting. Continue reading

Locally produced algae cleans waste water, feeds livestock

Noble 2 - courtesy Trent University - web

Dr. Andressa Lacerda

By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Peterborough – Local researchers have developed several strains of algae that can clean waste water as well as serve as a potential livestock superfood.

Nobletech Inc.’s Noble Purification division is currently piloting its algae-based clean water technology, and Noble Biotech has developed sustainable animal feed that is high in protein and omega fatty acids. The company is part of the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster.

“Our core technology for both of these applications is the algae product itself,” explains Dr. Andressa Lacerda, a recent Ph.D. graduate of Trent’s environmental and life sciences program. “We’re algae farmers, and we grow algae with different purposes.” Continue reading

Swapping wheat straw with switchgrass to grow mushrooms

MushroomBed - webBy Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – Ontario mushroom growers can substitute switchgrass for wheat straw when they’re growing their crops without impacting yield or quality, while also reducing their production costs.

That’s the outcome of a research project led by Mushrooms Canada and funded through the Ontario Farm Innovation Program (OFIP).

“Ontario’s mushroom growers have encountered the perfect storm regarding raw materials for the production of mushroom growing medium, known as mushroom substrate, so identifying substitutes for the traditional ingredients has become a high priority,” explains Ryan Koeslag, Executive Vice President of Mushrooms Canada.

Standard raw materials are wheat straw, poultry litter, horse stable bedding, gypsum and water. For maximum mushroom production, substrate has to contain both a source of carbon – wheat straw, hay or stable bedding – and nitrogen from poultry litter or stable bedding. Continue reading

Potential industrial uses spell market opportunity for new soybean

Renowned Guelph soybean breeder first discovered variety 20 years ago

By Lilian Schaer for Soy 20/20

Guelph – A soybean variety first identified at the University of Guelph twenty years ago is now seeing a future as a possible feedstock for industrial uses.

Istvan Rajcan

Prof. Istvan Rajcan (Photo courtesy I. Rajcan)

Currently known as OAC 13-55C-HL, the soybean is high in linoleic fatty acids, lending itself particularly well to industrial material applications like paints, coatings, polyols and epoxies.

Renowned University of Guelph soybean breeder, the late Dr. Gary Ablett first discovered the variety two decades ago while he was working to develop soybeans with oil profiles more suited to the food industry, but market demand at the time wasn’t strong enough to warrant pursuing it further. Continue reading