Research and Industry Meet to Create Mutually Beneficial Partnership

Collaborative research underway between Cape Breton University (CBU) and BW BioEnergy Inc. that will help clean the environment and drinking water through the production of biomass using sustainable harvested and underutilized hardwoods has been awarded $45,000 from Mitacs.

The funds will assist Dr. Stephanie MacQuarrie, an Assistant Professor of Organic Chemistry, and Barrie Folek, CEO of BW BioEnergy Inc. further their research titled, The Development of Green Carbons from Biomass Torrefaction: Activated Carbon, by supporting a two-year postdoc, Dr. Khaled Omari, to work on the project. Mitacs is a Canadian not-for-profit organization that offers funding for internships and fellowships at Canadian universities for international undergraduate and graduate students and postdocs.

B. W. BioEnergy Inc. and the MacQuarrie research group have developed and characterized three major carbon samples from a local, renewable, cost-efficient feedstock and are probing the potential application of these biomasses to adsorb various industrial pollutants in the aqueous phase.

“In addition to the benefit and feeling of satisfaction that we get as researchers helping an industry develop innovative ideas to ensure or improve products and profits, as university researchers we are continually seeking additional research dollars to sustain our research program, and funding agencies are very keen to fund projects that merge basic and applied research – this happens when industry and academia collaborate,” says MacQuarrie.

The project will develop an activated carbon from local abundant wood, using as environmentally-friendly methods of activation as possible. As well, during the process by-products will be used to further activate the carbon, making the process green focused. The activated carbons will be used as absorbents to remove contaminants from water. 

The research is also sustainable in that the entire process will be local, allowing local abundant crops to be turned into useful carbon, using a mild method that also recycles the by-products of activation through the process, making it much more sustainable and greatly improving the overall footprint of the process.

Additional funding for this targeted research was contributed by BW BioEnergy Inc. in the amount $45,000.  BW BioEnergy Inc. has benefited immensely from this joint project and the ongoing partnership with CBU.  “In collaboration with CBU, timely results can be obtained locally which helps make our research more cost effective. We are also building knowledge capacity in this specialized area which will be a tremendous benefit to the Cape Breton industrial area,” says Folek. BW BioEnergy Inc. is currently supported by ACOA through the AIF program for 1.73 million dollars.

For more information visit www.cbu.ca/research.