Great minds think alike – great minds think green!

Franco Berruti
The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) funded Agricultural Biorefinery Innovation Network for Green Energy, Fuels and Chemicals (ABIN) brought to London over 120 participating researchers from across Canada and the United States, March 14 – 16, 2010, at the Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre. The aim of the conference was to bring Network members up-to-speed on ABIN work being performed across the country, and, to offer opportunities for information exchange. This, in turn, led to the development of new collaborations, thereby facilitating the goals of ABIN: namely to accelerate research, technology transfer and commercialization in areas of sustainable development, yielding results that will have a positive impact on Canadian society through the creation of new inventions, businesses and jobs.

The conference included over 60 presentations by principal investigators, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, providing attendees with a glimpse into innovative research being conducted in diverse yet inter-connected areas such as: feedstock optimization for biorefinery, production and application of green chemicals and fuels from biooil, life cycle assessment, and commercialization of bio-based products.

“We offered a unique format at this conference,” explains ABIN Network Manager and ICFAR Director, Administration, Chantal Gloor. “The presentations were kept to five minutes, offering teasers of the work being done as part of this $8.7 M national Network. Participants then had opportunity to discuss details at the extensive poster sessions.”

In addition to the presentations and poster sessions, conference participants enjoyed the talks of three special guests: Dr. T. Hewitt, Vice-President, Research and International Relations, The University of Western Ontario; Dr. M. Gruber, Deputy Leader, Cellulosic Biofuel Network, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Dr. T. Browne, Program Manager, Sustainability and Mechanical Puling, Paprican Division, FP Innovations.

Feedback from participants was extremely positive. After two years of establishing projects, at the conference there were results to share. The Network has developed a momentum. “There was a sense of considerable optimism and enthusiasm throughout the conference” says Network Lead, Franco Berruti. “Investigators are engaged and ready to explore avenues to see ABIN continue, in one way or another, beyond the initial funding period to 2011.” A second ABIN conference is being arranged, which will see an expansion of the focus, from research collaboration through to technology transfer, commercialization and policy influence.

ABIN involves top Canadian university researchers, government experts and the private sector working collaboratively to design and optimize processes that convert renewable biomass into a variety of value-added bio-based products through a biorefinery approach. The Network's multi-disciplinary team of experts aim to build sustainable pathways that will put Canada at the forefront in the development of cutting-edge technologies leading from feedstock enhancement through to output of green energy, fuels and chemicals, and on to practical application via commercialization. ABIN focuses on under-utilized biomass resources, such as residues from agricultural harvests, as well as on specialized crop development. Together with development of novel biorefinery processes, these resources have the conversion potential to push Canada towards meeting its international climate change commitments, and to stimulate economic growth, especially in rural Canada.

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.: Allison Stevenson
Spencer Engineering Building, Room 2074
Phone: (519) 850-2917 Fax: (519) 661-3808