Alta. biofuel brain trust to focus on triticale

Improving triticale as a feedstock for biofuels and other industrial products will be the goal of 30 research projects linked by a new research network.

The federal government on Friday announced a $15.5 million investment in the Canadian Triticale Biorefinery Initiative (CTBI), an Alberta-based network tying in over 90 scientists at 10 different schools and agencies.

CTBI will be led by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development and will include scientists from the Alberta Research Council, Carleton University, Centre de recherche sur les grains, Concordia University, Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, the University of Alberta, the University of Lethbridge and GreenField Ethanol.

Triticale is a hybrid made by crossing wheat with rye. In early breeding programs it was intended for development as a high-yielding, drought-tolerant food crop, but that focus later shifted to triticale’s use as a feed and fodder crop.

CTBI is meant to develop “new ways of making triticale plants a more valuable and renewable source of ethanol feedstock” and also to “find new ways of developing triticale plants for its biomaterials, which can be used in the Canadian manufacturing industry.”

“Our triticale work is helping to diversify and pursue non-traditional markets while advancing technologies for other crops,” Alberta Agriculture Minister George Groeneveld said in the government’s release.

“This network will generate economic growth at home and help position Canada as a leader in triticale production research abroad,” federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in the same release.

The CTBI funding pledged Friday is to flow through AAFC’s Agricultural Bioproducts Innovation Program (ABIP), which is meant to spur research, development, technology transfer and commercialization of biofuels and other ag bioproducts in Canada.

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