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Technology turns ag-waste into useful products

The federal government has given a University of Alberta technology an investment boost paving the way for innovative new products


Edmonton, Alta. – The federal government has invested almost $1 million in a technology that is capable of converting agricultural waste into useful commercial products.

Western Economic Diversification Canada made the announcement late last week.

The technology is called Lipid to Hydrocarbon technology and was developed by David Bressler, an associate professor in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Alberta.

The technology can convert waste such as animal fats, vegetable oils, oil from plant algae and restaurant grease to high-value byproducts such as hydrocarbon fuels, solvents and chemicals.

(From left to right) Brian Jean, Fort McMurray-Athabasca member of parliament; Kelly Maher, director of Program Development with the Biorefining Conversions Network; Renee Elio, University of Alberta associate vice-president (Research); and Brad Fournier, director of Research and Development with the Alberta Meat and Livestock Agency give the thumbs up to the Lipid to Hydrocarbon Technology project, which received $970,000 from Western Economic Development Canada. Photo from the University of Alberta website.

These end products take the form of jet fuel, gasoline and solvents for use in the crop, oil and gas industries. One of the solvents developed in Bressler’s lab would be the first of its kind used in the cosmetics industry. A spinoff company would produce and supply these products to various industries for commercial applications.

Next level

Bressler says the project takes biodiesel to the next level. “This research is a great

example of technology that was developed from scratch at the U of A and, if successful, has a chance to make biodiesel obsolete,” he says.

Bressler’s patented conversion process results in fuels that are more environmentally friendly because they perform better, burn more cleanly and have lower emissions.

The investment will go toward establishing a pilot industrial plant at the U of A’s Agri-Food Discovery Place to further demonstrate and refine the process. The technology could lead to the establishment of an Alberta-based industrial plant and a U of A spinoff company.

A grant from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency is also helping to support the initiative.

“Today’s investment will provide the tools needed to test, demonstrate and ultimately commercialize an important Western Canadian technological achievement that will open up new commercial opportunities for our agricultural sector,” says Brian Jean, member of parliament for Fort McMurray-Athabasca, on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, minister of State for Western Economic Diversification.


Deanna Rosolen

Deanna Rosolen

Managing Editor, Food in Canada
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