Franco Berruti
Franco Berruti

Berruti awarded for contributions to green chemistry and engineering

By Agnes Chick | September 12, 2011

The Chemical Institute of Canada - Canadian Green Chemistry and Engineering Network (CGCEN) has announced Franco Berruti, Director (General) of the Institute for Chemicals and Fuels from Alternative Resources and Chemical Engineering Professor at The University of Western Ontario, is the 2011 recipient of The Ontario Green Chemistry and Engineering Award (Individual).

Berruti has dedicated his career towards the discovery of innovative, chemical engineering processes and technologies, designed to meet industrial and societal needs. He applies chemical reactor and fluidized bed technologies for transforming heavy oils, biomass or residue materials into valuable chemicals or environmentally friendly fuels. His approach is to develop strong collaborations, where the research team considers not just the problem at hand, but related factors including environmental issues such as sustainability, efficiencies, and, economy. Because of this, he and his collaborators have been extremely successful in integrating academic research with industrial application.

For example, Berruti was the lead of the $8.7 million Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Agricultural Biorefinery Innovation Network (ABIN) on Green Energy, Fuels and Chemicals, that concluded in the spring of 2011. He is a member of the NSERC Strategic Network, Lignoworks, and is actively pursuing a number of new, and large, networking ventures. Part of a team that is working to put Ontario on the map as an international leader in biorefining, Berruti uses opportunities abroad, such as through the Canada-California Strategic Innovation Partnership, Brazil-Canada Renewable Energy Workshops, and the Association of Italian Researchers of Ontario, to educate and inform on issues relating to green process engineering.

From 2000 – 2007, he was Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Western. He helped create Western’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building, the Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Pavilion, which officially opened its doors in 2009. Berruti’s vision was to create a living lab to educate visitors, and most importantly engineering students to understand and develop a large variety of green engineering principles.

With colleagues from the department of Chemical & Biochemical Engineering, Berruti also played an important role in creating Canada’s first Green Process Engineering undergraduate program.

In 2008, Berruti and his colleague Cedric Briens, along with generous funding from Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation, established the Institute for Chemicals and Fuels from Alternative Resources (ICFAR). A bridge between academic bench-top research with industrial-scale initiatives, ICFAR specializes in fundamental and applied research and development activities in the fields of production of renewable fuels and chemicals, heavy oil conversion and sustainable technologies.

Technology transfer and commercialization ventures are important to ICFAR. Along with colleague Briens, they developed mobile pyrolysis technology that led to the creation of Agri-Therm Inc., a Canadian company dedicated to developing, manufacturing and marketing portable and stationary equipment for producing bio-oils and products from biomass, specifically agricultural residues, wastes and transition crops.

The CGCEN is a forum of the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC), the national, not-for-profit organization that advances the principles and practices of the chemical sciences for environment, health and safety, and economy and energy.

The Ontario Green Chemistry and Engineering Award, sponsored by Ontario’s Ministry of Environment, is presented annually. The nominee must reside in Ontario and have made significant contributions to the field of green chemistry and engineering, including the technical, economic, human health and environmental benefits.

The award will be presented at the 61st Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference hosted by Western’s department of Chemical & Biochemical Engineering on October 23-26, 2011. The conference will be held at the London Convention Centre.

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