New Alta. biofibre centre seeks projects

A new research centre at Edmonton and Vegreville, Alta. is inviting researchers and companies to test their methods and technologies for making new products and energy sources from ag and forest fibre.

Located at the Alberta Research Council’s Vegreville facility and the University of Alberta’s Agriculture Discovery Place in Edmonton, the new Alberta Biomaterials Development Centre is meant to link research, technology and business to fast-track new products derived from farmed and forest fibres onto the market.

The new centre, the province said, will offer “access to expertise, test facilities, scale-up equipment, validation prototyping, and customer-demonstration support.”

“With these technologies, everything a farmer produces becomes potential bio-based building blocks for a new range of chemicals and materials,” provincial Agriculture Minister George Groeneveld said in a release Thursday. “It can lead to new global markets for Alberta products and new sources of skilled employment in rural Alberta and the agricultural sector.”

Alberta’s “vast feedstock resources” in both ag and forest fibre and “expertise in this emerging sector” would provide global companies with fertile ground for developing, testing and producing new materials, chemicals and energy sources, the province said.

The new $15 million centre is a partnership between the provincial Advanced Education and Technology department, through the Alberta Life Sciences Institute, as well as Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development and the Alberta Research Council.

The centre was created as a response to “competitive pressures impacting forestry and agriculture,” the province said. It was developed from recommendations in the 2007 report, “Alberta’s Fibre Roadmap: Getting Value from Every Fibre — Making the Most of Alberta’s Lignocellulose Resource.”

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