U of M receives $1.7 million for biofuel research

The Province of Manitoba announced a $1.7 million investment in Canadian flax and biofuels genomic research that promises to make the University of Manitoba a leader in the field.

“The future of flax and biofuels research has never been brighter,” said Minister of Science Jim Rondeau, on October 5 at the U of M.

“I truly believe [the researchers] get it, are world leaders and will make this a better tomorrow,” he said.

The $1.7 million includes $375,000 towards Genome Prairie’s Total Utilization of Flax Geonomics (TUFGEN) and $1.3 million investment in the Microbial Genomics of Biofuels and Co-Products from Biorefining Processes (MGB2).

Richard Sparling, co-researcher of the MGB2 project, explained U of M researchers are striving to turn agricultural and forestry waste into valued products, such as fuel and plastics.

“As the world strives for greener, sustainable approaches, that can reduce our dependency on petroleum, and petro-chemical products. We in Manitoba would like to be, and as of today are, part of the solution,” said Sparling.

David Levin, Sparling’s partner in the MGB2 project, stressed the need to find solutions to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels.

“I think we all acknowledge in the backs of our minds that our species is facing a major crisis in the next half century,” said Levin.

The MGB2 project is co-piloted within the faculties of Science and Agriculture.

The TUFGEN project aims to enhance the usefulness of flax and its versatility for producers.

“Canada is the world’s largest producer of flax which places the onus on us to lead flax research and development,” said Sylvie Cloutier, co-lead researcher of TUFGEN.

She continued: “The available resources will propel flax research forward, and create opportunities that were undreamt of only a short while ago.”

Geonome Prairie, a division of Geonome Canada, is a not-for-profit organization that supports and manages large-scale genomics and protemics research projects in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Digvir Jayas, U of M vice-president (research) said this project will be the largest ever single contribution by a Canadian team for Genome.