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Features Harvesting Sustainability
UBC research looks to boost sustainable bioenergy


November 17, 2014
By Canadian Biomass

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November 17, 2014, Vancouver, B.C. - Two new Genome BC-funded projects led by UBC researchers will harness microbial community research to help tackle sustainable development challenges in biofuel and BC shale gas development.

November 17, 2014, Vancouver, B.C. – Two new Genome
BC-funded projects led by UBC researchers will harness microbial community
research to help tackle sustainable development challenges in biofuel and BC
shale gas development.

 

The initiatives, led by UBC microbiologist Steven Hallam in
collaboration with researchers Sean Crowe and Uli Mayer, will receive $830,000
in funding through Genome BC's User Partnership Program. The work could inform
a range of issues faced by industry—including environmental monitoring, water
management and site risk mitigation.

 

"From a microbial ecology perspective, every time a
well is drilled or biofuels released into the subsurface, a growth experiment
is initiated," says Hallam, an associate professor in UBC's Department of
Microbiology and Immunology and a Canada Research Chair in Environmental
Genomics.

 

"Our ability to interpret these experiments and harness
the results requires detailed understanding of the environmental conditions
before, during and after perturbation. Working closely with forward thinking
industrial partners we are poised to bring microbial ecology and genome
sciences to the energy sector in ways that promote more efficient resource
recovery with reduced environmental costs."

 

On the biofuel front, the UBC team will investigate
consequences of biofuel releases across different ecological scales, from
laboratory cultures to subsurface microbial ecosystems. The research will open
a genomic window on the environmental consequences of blended biofuel releases,
enabling industry to make more effective site management decisions and develop
risk mitigation strategies based on ecological design principles.

 

Hallam and Mayer have established collaborative partnerships
with Shell, the American Petroleum Institute and several regulators, including
the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, British Columbia Ministry
of the Environment, Science Advisory Board for Contaminated Sites in British
Columbia, and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

 

"These projects are of huge importance to British
Columbians," says Dr Alan Winter, President and CEO of Genome BC.
"Bioenergy is an integral part of our future and genomic tools offer an
opportunity to keep safety paramount while maximizing yield."


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