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Lakehead professor renewed as research chair in bioenergy and biorefining processes


July 9, 2019
By Lakehead University

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Lakehead University professor Dr. Sudip Kumar Rakshit has been renewed as Canada Research Chair in Bioenergy and Biorefining Processes for a second seven-year term.

Canada Research Chairs are world-class scientists and scholars from diverse backgrounds who are working on new discoveries and innovations that help the environment, health, communities and economy to thrive.

This is Dr. Rakshit’s second seven-year term as a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair. His focus is on developing new technologies to produce cleaner energy and chemicals.

“The challenges of replacing fossil resources by using renewable resources in an environmentally-friendly and economically acceptable manner is crucial for sustainable development and to limit climate change,” Dr. Rakshit said.

The overall aim of his work is to contribute to the development of a circular bio-economy, where materials are kept within use for as long as possible.

He has been developing processes to create value-added products, such as alcohol and biodiesel, and platform chemicals that can be used in several industrial sectors from renewable resources like forest wood and agricultural residues.

He believes integrating such processes into existing wood-based industries, pulp and paper, for example, would make the overall industry economically viable. There looms, however, the resultant environmental problem and the impact on marine and terrestrial life.

“How do you dispose of the waste plastic after use?” Dr. Rakshit asked. “You can’t put it into the rivers or lakes.”

Making plastics from woody materials is feasible, but they must have the diverse functionality of normal plastics, including being lightweight and transparent, and they must be degradable.

“We need to make plastics which are either compostable or we can break down to their original components for re-use,” he explained. “What we’re talking about is the need to complete the circle.”

The Canada Research Chairs Program is a national strategy to make Canada a leader in research and development. With an investment of $295 million per year, the aim is to attract and retain a diverse cadre of world-class researchers, and to reinforce academic research and training excellence in post-secondary institutions. There are more than 1,800 Canada Research Chairs at universities across Canada.


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