Renewable solutions to energy, manufacturing presented at bio-tech summit
July 21, 2009 By Manufacturing AUTOMATION
Sixty Canadian leaders from more than 35 biotechnology companies and organizations across Canada presented their technologies as the largest Canadian presence at the sixth annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocesses in Montreal. Their technologies offer alternatives to energy production from non-fossil-fuel sources, and manufacturing options for cosmetic products, pesticides, construction materials and auto parts.
Canadian firms demonstrated strong leadership in biofuels, presenting advances in technologies varying from renewable energy production from waste sources; to technologies to increase the ability of common crops and plants to be used for energy; and genomic advances in new crops, like switch grass, for use in energy production. Canadian leadership was also clear in the discussion of use of biotech for pharmaceutical and cosmetic use.
“Industrial biotechnology is entering its growth stage and is offering workable solutions to address climate change concerns by producing transportation fuels and green chemicals from a range of cellulosic feedstocks,” explained Ross MacLachlan, a keynote plenary participant at the summit, and president and CEO of Burnaby, B.C.-based Lignol Energy Corp., a biofuels and biochemicals company. “Industrial biotechnology offers a viable alternative for the Canadian forestry industry seeking value added and sustainable solutions to tackle changes within the industry, such as the damage caused by the mountain pine beetle, and it also offers new jobs and industrial development opportunities in economies such as Quebec.”
“One of the continued challenges for biofuels production is of course the availability of enough raw material (feedstock) to supply energy producers,” said Peter Matthewman, president and CEO of Performance Plants Inc. in Kingston, Ont. “Technologies that allow us to grow biomass feedstocks, like miscanthus, faster to meet these needs will be the real value for future energy development.”
As the industry explored new technologies, they also discussed the best global policy and business enlivenments necessary to transition the economy.
“Canada has a real leadership opportunity here to be a leader in climate change discussions by creating viable business solutions,” said Peter Brenders, president and CEO of BIOTECanada. “The challenge for our regulators is to step up and start actively working to be leaders by facilitating implementation of important new technologies such as novel crops.”