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BioAlliance, Genome BC fund pulp and paper residuals projects


July 19, 2019
By P&PC staff

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Two projects that will use gene extraction technology on residuals from pulp and paper mills are receiving more than $815,000 in funding from Genome BC and the BC Pulp & Paper BioAlliance (BioAlliance).

Led by the University of British Columbia (UBC)’s Dr. Sue Baldwin and valued at close to $315,000, one project will use the concept of the “circular economy” to take pulp and paper mill residues, currently landfill, and use them to sequester nutrients from water at mine sites. This method would remove toxicity from the water and rehabilitate the soil. Collaboration with the mining industry is already underway to test this solution.

A second project, led by UBC’s Dr. Lindsay Eltis and valued at over $500,000, will develop biological methods that can be used to transform black liquor from the chemical recovery process into usable consumer goods such as adhesives, foams and other applications. This would dramatically increase the value of black liquor and potentially enable a total increase in process output.

Both partnerships are being run in collaboration with BC’s BioProducts Institute and FPInnovations, working directly with industry partners of the BioAlliance. Along with UBC, FPInnovations is jointly delivering the research program to the BioAlliance and playing a significant role in both projects. FPInnovations also contributes $300,000 annually to the BioAlliance on behalf of the member companies who are part of the BioAlliance.

The projects are a direct investment through Genome BC’s GeneSolve program, designed to bring industry and academia together to find solutions for sector challenges. Genome BC leads genomics innovation in the province and invests in research, entrepreneurship and commercialization in life sciences to address challenges in key sectors such as health, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, agrifood, energy, mining and environment.

“Genome BC invests in these types of projects because there is economic value attached to the science,” says Dr. Catalina Lopez-Correa, chief scientific officer and vice-president, sectors, at Genome BC. “There is a huge opportunity to enhance the value of forestry byproducts to not only add to advances and innovation in BC’s economy, but also in the interest of preserving the environment.”

“We appreciate the investment from Genome BC to support the diversification of the BC pulp and paper industry into higher value sustainable markets,” says Bob Lindstrom, spokesperson for the BC Pulp & Paper BioAlliance.

The BioAlliance delivers “best bet” technologies for the provincial industry to accelerate the bio-based economy and is a partnership between UBC BioProducts Institute and FPInnovations, as well as a number of industry partners including Domtar, Canfor, Paper Excellence, Mercer, West Fraser and Harmac Pacific.

The forestry industry in BC employs 141,000 people and generates $12.94 billion towards the province’s GDP. Pulp and paper accounts for 16 per cent of that total.


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