CBU Chemistry Researcher Receives Industrial Funding Award

Dr. Matthias Bierenstiel, Associate Professor, Inorganic Chemistry at Cape Breton University was recently awarded $90,000 in applied research funding from the Mitacs Accelerate program and industry partner, B.W. BioEnergy Inc. (BioEnergy) of Sydney, NS.

Dr. Bierenstiel’s research team will work with BioEnergy on this two-year project to explore how tree bark, a by-product of the company’s patented activated carbon manufacturing process, can be used in other value-added product streams.

BioEnergy produces bark from a variety of trees such as alder, birch, maple and willow, which contain a variety of natural compounds. This research project focuses on detailed analysis using state-of-the-art equipment available at CBU and processing methods that can be readily implemented from the laboratory bench to an industrial scale. Potentially diverse applications of bark products range from natural glues and wood treatment applications to extraction of natural compounds, which have medicinally active properties.   

Dr. Bierenstiel’s team includes postdoctoral researcher Dr. Hisham Sleem, who is a recent PhD graduate in the field of organic chemistry from Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, and has expertise in natural products.

“It is great to have the opportunity to work with an industry partner on applied research,” says Bierenstiel. “It is satisfying to solve problems creatively and to impact a company and its employees, ultimately benefiting the Canadian economy. The postdoctoral researcher Dr. Hisham Sleem has excellent opportunities and is learning necessary skills with our industry partner B.W. BioEnergy Inc. that cannot be learned at the university alone.”

“We at BioEnergy are extremely excited to have partnered with Dr. Bierenstiel and Dr. Sleem at CBU,” says Ryan Duff, Business Development Manager at BioEnergy. “This research will be invaluable for us going forward by taking something that would otherwise be a waste stream to be managed, and helping us turn it into value-added, natural products. At BioEnergy we are committed to conducting business in an environmentally responsible manner, and this project fits perfectly with that philosophy.”

Dr. Bierenstiel is a tenured member of the Department of Chemistry and a research fellow at CBU’s Verschuren Centre of Sustainability in Energy and the Environment. His diverse chemistry research interests span the basic research of the study of transition-metal complexes for catalysis and biomimetic enzyme models, including a 2014 patent application for the discovery of new antibiotics, to applied industrial research. Bierenstiel and collaborators have attracted over $1 million in funding for a mass spectrometer coupled ultra-performance liquid chromatograph, gas chromatograph, high-pressure gas reactor and research laboratory renovations.  

B.W. BioEnergy Inc. has developed commercially competitive, hardwood-based activated carbon products and technology for use in the removal of environmental and process contaminants. In particular, these products can be used in liquid and gas filtration to remove mercury, lead and other heavy metals, chlorine, copper, pesticides, carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and a host of other contaminants. The company is currently in the late stages of a $2.3 million Atlantic Innovation Fund project through ACOA, and is actively seeking demand-side partners as it prepares for commercialization. For more information, please contact Ryan Duff, Business Development Manager at (902) 217-0858 or ryan.bioenergyinc@seaside.ns.ca.